Wang Guangyi (b. 1956)
Eternal Halo
signed in Chinese and English and dated '2004 Wang Guangyi' (lower left)
oil on canvas
59 x 47½ in. (149.9 x 102.7 cm.)
Painted in 2004.
Shanghart Gallery, Shanghai

Lot Essay

Wang Guangyi's iconic Great Criticism series of the mid-1990s were based on the fusion of Communist and consumerist visual motifs, representing the artist's own latent critique of the path of Chinese history and the overarching influence of propaganda on mainstream culture.

Paralleling the Great Criticism series, Eternal Halo exists as a return to what Wang refers to as "the original state of condition." The momentum behind the work derives from the aesthetics of blackboard newspapers. Borrowing the prototypes from propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution, the emphasis is strictly on the trio of revolutionary cadres rather than the overtly displayed advertisements. The brand names of consumer goods and the bold, primary colors are replaced by hard-edged rays emanating from the figures. The reduction of the color palette reflects a change in Wang's critical focus as his attention shifts from political and social matters to artistic concerns. In opposition to his earlier in works, Eternal Halo exhibits more purely the artist's investigation of power itself and the visual seductiveness of classic revolutionary imagery.

"Conceptually speaking, this process of returning to the original expression has meant for me a return to the original ideological worldview that guided my earliest educational experience, and, by extension, to the earliest views on the questions of form that were imparted to me. In fact, it could be said that all the work I am now doing is related to this idea of going back to the original, and of reducing things to their essentials. In the past, I never thought this way, but now I am following the trajectory of my own growth development. I realize that is very important for an artist" (Wang Guangyi quoted in Wang Guangyi: The Legacy of Heroism, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, 2004, p. 5).

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