Selected works by Wang Guangyi

Wang Guangyi
Art Go

2006

Oil on canvas

200 x 160 cm
Though Wang Guangyi’s work has erroneously been associated with Chinese Political Pop, in reality one of the main themes of his art can be found in its relationship to the transcendent. Juxtaposing revolutionary images with consumer logos, Wang’s canvases provocate with their duplicitous message, highlighting the conflict between China’s political past and commercialised present. Stylistically merging the government enforced aesthetic of agitprop with the kitsch sensibility of American pop, Guangyi’s work adopts the cold-war language of the 60s to ironically examine the contemporary polemics of globalisation.

Through his critique, Guangyi’s paintings weave intricate narratives, implicating the role of the artist as an active participant (both as subjugator and subservient) in economic and social policy. Guangyi treads a very delicate line between moral dictum and capitalist endorsement; the interpretation of his paintings alternates with the subjectivity of context. Amalgamating, confusing, and blurring opposing ideological beliefs, Guangyi’s billboard sized canvases readily sell out national valour, while simultaneously devaluing status symbol luxury for the proletariat cause.
Wang Guangyi
Porsche

2005

Oil on canvas

200 x 200cm
Wang Guangyi
Materialist’s Art

2006

Oil on canvas

300 x 400 cm

Guangyi’s Materialist’s Art is exemplary of a new "cultural revolution". The dramatically outlined figures brandishing red book gospel, set against flat planes of colour, are rendered in a style specific to Chinese government issue posters of the late 60s and early 70s. Emblazoned with the words " Materialist's" and "Art" the messaging is both condemnation and incitement, a statement of radicalisation and power, repositioning the aesthetics of totalitarian authority as a signifier of absolute and extravagant decadence.

Wang Guangyi
Aesthetics of War – Blue No. 3

2006

Oil on canvas

200 x 300 cm

Guangyi’s Aesthetics of War - Blue No. 3 operates as a dual narrative. Combining the graphic styles of comic books and instructional manuals with scrawled blackboard-like text his work points to a visual analysis that's equally personal and pedagogical. Rendered in X-ray tones, his tableau is situated in the realm of science fiction and adventure, giving a sense of toxicity and danger to the pop motifs and generic script, questioning the implications of public images as coded messages and the tacit role of the artist as producer.


Articles

THE PAINTINGS OF WANG GUANGYI: REVOLUTIONARY ACTS?

by David Spalding

The paintings of Wang Guangyi belong to the category of Chinese contemporary art termed Political Pop: work that appropriates the visual tropes of the propaganda of the Cultural Revolution, reworking them in the flat, colorful style of American Pop.

To understand the works of artists engaged in this practice, it is important to recognize the significance and specificity of the images they are using to fashion their work. Without this knowledge, the work of artists like Wang Guangyi may be reduced to a mere aestheticization of the experiences of the Cultural Revolution, a view which threatens to limit the discussion of these works to their formal elements, foreclosing more important ideological and historical questions that must be raised.

It is perhaps equally essential, particularly for Western audiences, to keep in mind the dominance that the Maoist regime held over visual culture and artistic production in China from 1949 to 1976, a control that reached a near totality between 1966 and 1972, during the Gang of Four's reign [i].

Certainly, the vast legacy of propaganda that resulted from this period will continue to impact artists interested in critically examining China's recent visual history. After all, these images were more than simply popular; for a time, they were the only ones allowed.

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Source: shanghart.com