chinese contemporary art
Artists >> Wang Guangyi

Wang Guangyi is the leading protagonist of the post-1989 Political Pop movement - one of the major artistic movements to have developed in the aftermath of the events of 1989 - Tiananmen Square and the closure of the China/Avant Garde exhibition at the China National Gallery. It is characterised by the combination of propaganda images, Pop Art and commercial advertising. Wang Guangyi's Great Criticism series combines the propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution with the brand names of famous western consumer products. Idealised peasants and workers yield pens instead of hammers or shovels and appear to extol the virtues of Coca Cola, Nokia or Swatch. Wang Guangyi calls the ironic effect produced by the juxtaposition of icons, cultural or other, from different eras anatomic structuralism. This anatomic structuralism destroys the original intent of each image resulting in an absurdity.

Wang Guangyi is interested in the visual transmission of the socialist message. He first thought about making his Materialist sculptures in 2000-2001. The inspiration came from the socialist realist statues he saw everyday throughout his childhood. Images of leaders or of model heroes were immensely effective communicators of power and idealism, and deeply inspirational for a great many people. Interested in the communicative power of these sculptures, Wang Guangyi wanted to continue the communication thus bringing that era of Chinese history to younger generations, making them reflect on Chinese history. He wants to transmit the concept of socialism using a visual approach and at the same time communicate some of the faith the Chinese people had in the socialist message. Power is an important element in these works. Wang Guangyi considers these sculptures a turning point in his work, moving away from the cultural conflicts expressed in his Great Criticism paintings.