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Provenance : Property from an important US based collection, artwork was previously auctioned by Sotheby’s.
Height of the figure - 6ft
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.