Yue Minjun

Born in 1962, Yue Minjun is a Chinese contemporary artist from the Heilongjiang Province. He trained as a painter, sculptor and printmaker at Hebei Normal University and graduated in 1985.  A crucial point in his life arrived during the Tiananmen Square Uprising in 1989. This important event in the political history of the country led him to explore the societal changes happening in the country and he joined the artists’ colony outside Beijing. He started garnering a lot of attention for the portraits that he painted of his friends and family but it was the self-portraits that really got him international fame. Till date one of his most important work is ‘Execution’ which showcases several laughing men in front of an execution squad and this work is regarded as a reaction to the Tiananmen crackdown. He adapted a highly individualistic style by painting his own smiling visage often cloned on numerous figures at once. His smiling self-portraits are surrealistic in nature and have a two-fold effect on the viewer. These portraits are often described as a self-ironic response to the spiritual vacuum and folly of modern-day China.  He often bases his compositions on well-known European masterpieces and blends them with pop aesthetics. His self-portraits, scalded pink or any other candy colour, have an exaggerated effect with that maniacal grin denoting violence and vulnerability at the same time. ‘In my work, laughter is a representation of a state of helplessness, lack of strength and participation, with the absence of our rights that society has imposed on us’ states the artist. The kind of style that Yue Minjun adopts is often known as Appropriation Art wherein the artist stresses upon the fact that the meaning of images can be altered depending on the context of its display and its relation to other images.  His works are part of important collections like the Denver Art Museum, the Shenzhen Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Some of his selected solo exhibitions include ‘Red Ocean’, Chinese Contemporary, London in 2000, ‘Yue Min Jun: Handling’, One World Art Center, China in 2002, ‘Yue Min Jun: Beijing Ironicals’, Prüss & Ochs Gallery, Berlin, Germany in 2003 and ‘Yue Min Jun: Sculptures And Paintings’, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong  in 2004. The artist lives and works in Beijing.;

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