(B. 1957)
Great Criticism Series - Christie's
dated '2003'; signed in Chinese; signed 'Wang Guangyi' in Pinyin (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
149.9 x 120 cm. (59 x 47 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2003

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Mao Zedong once presented the view that "the lives of the people are the sole source of all art and literature." This was put into practice in a systematic movement that brought artists into close contact with life in factories, rural communes, and the ranks of the military, with the goal that these cultural workers would be re-educated by learning from peasants and factory workers. An equivalent advocate, Valdimir Lenin too voiced that "Our opinion on art is not important. Nor is it important what art gives to a few hundreds or even thousands of a population as great as ours. Art belongs to the people. It must have its deepest roots in the broad mass of workers. It must be understood and loved by them. It must be rooted in and grow with their feelings, thoughts, and desires. It must arouse and develop the artist in them. Are we to give cake and sugar to a minority when the mass of workers and peasants still lack black bread?" Wang Guangyi remarks on their revolutionary statements in Art Angle (Lot 1313) stripped bare of the intense, bright palette he typically indulges in and instead flattens it into opaque monochrome similar to that of photograph negatives. In this visual mass constructed in typical propagandistic composition with Marxist personas, Wang nevertheless shrewdly inserted his sarcasm with simple placement of a pink slogan flashing like neon lights of advertisements.

Intentionally citing aesthetics of commercial billboards, the drama and tension of his paintings are elicited through garish palette, high in contrast, slapped with logos of commercial enterprises in his Great Criticism Series- Christie's (Lot 1312) and No Intel (Lot 1314). Wang purposefully feeds various displays of bittersweet results of globalization, contextualizing China's modernization efforts and international exchange, and criticizing it as nothing but commercial greed. An obvious indication of the Little Red Book of the Cultural Revolution, the images evokes the omnipresence of communism and is also used as a compositional strategy, as the color red is what unites the otherwise segregated foreground, middle and background delineated by Wang's jarring black outlines. The result is an image of a displaced propagandist trapped in the cult of Pop Art, shouting of slogans that are far-off relevant from their identity, roots and purpose. By shrewdly implementing 'No' as part of the slogan, but coyly minimizing this proclaim by evidently enlarging the 'Christie's' text or by effectively emphasizing the graphic mark of 'Intel' with its contrasting black box, Wang elicits a paradoxical pictorial idiom, representing his own ironic critique on the failure of the communist project, as well as his disappointment with the lack of idealism in the present day.

More from Asian Contemporary Art (Day Sale)

View All
View All