Yue Minjun's works are immediately recognizable. Whether in his larger than life-size sculptures or in paintings, Yue presents a satirical version of his own self-portrait, frequently in multiples, in absurd positions, and always with a gaping over-sized grin. The figures are direct and their impact immediate; but their hilarity more often than not seems frivolous if not cynically hollow.
Members of the Chinese avant-garde in the 1990s, like Wang Guangyi and Yue Minjun, found certain affinities between the Chinese propaganda visual style and that of Pop Art. The hard lines, muscular figures, and even color fields became a resource for artists to evoke a history of familiar ideological positions while critiquing the extremes and contradictions inherent in China's path to modernization. Yue has said that he "constructs his artistic language as a self-ironic response to the spiritual vacuum and folly of modern-day China" (Yue, quoted in M. Dematte, '48a esposizione internazionale d'arte', La Biennal di Venezia, 1999). With his series of Terracotta Warriors, Yue's life-size sculptures reference the famous tomb of China's notoriously tyrannical first emperor, in which over seven thousand warriors and other treasures were discovered in 1974. With this reference in mind, the stance of his modern everyman then becomes a pose of supplication, implying a blind and heedless embrace of the paths set before them.