Yue Minjun--The Artist Drawing the Boundaries of Modern and Contemporary Art

Born in 1962 in Daqing City in Heilongjiang province, Yue Minjun had almost gone through all the experiences that Chinese children encountered at his time—cultural revolution, violence, political movements, etc. However, he was lucky at the same time. What he had met before provided a wide range of materials for his future art creation. In 1987, Yue Minjun and his other two classmates held “S Art Exhibition” in the Exhibition Hall of Hebei Province (current Hebei Museum). In the 1990s, he became the free artist of “drifting family” and gradually regarded painting as the ultimate goal of his whole life.

There was an obvious narrative ideal in his art works: indulgent imagination, self-intoxication, questioning realistic survival in a mocking tone, highlighting the nature of existence in an absurd way. His pictures expressed skepticism of many prevailing values, but there was no direct anger. He tried to convey sharp humor in a mocking and laughing way. Although these images were processed exaggeratingly and typically, they precisely highlighted his “vivid and absurd living condition”. When we were immersed in a seemingly ridiculous picture scene and in a cynical, exaggerate, ironic and banter dialogues, we could feel the perverse human nature, survival paradox as well as the criticism and questioning attitude that creation subject from the dialogues showed on realistic cultures. Yue Minjun used an ironic and cynical humor directly demonstrated the spirit during a special period of China. His humor and comic techniques tried to turn meaningful things into interesting ones.

Yue Minjun is a great artist in contemporary China and becomes more and more mature in the rapid development of Chinese market economy and world flourishing economy. He occupied a unique position in the Chinese contemporary art by virtue of a decade works, with its distinctive image and style characteristics. This position was not only a “self-image” to be enlarged, but also clearly showed the characteristics of market-based trademarks. In Yue Minjun's art, "self-image" zoomed into a marketing strategy. Here, the "self-image" was not just a cultural referent, but also one of the most important fresh factors under the conditions of market economy. This was an access to understand the development of Chinese contemporary art since the 1990s. Yue Minjun was just standing on the mouth of this access.

From the early 1990s, Yue Minjun deliberately shaped an exaggerating “self-image” on the canvas. In recent years, this image has spread to the field of sculptures and prints. “It” sometimes occured independently, and sometimes did in union. “It” laughed with eyes closed, exaggerating but confident actions. “It” always appeared in some occasions. These occasions were concerning the development and conflict of Chinese culture for one decade, relating to survival condition, growth history, cultural relations of the east and west, gender, economic and political (violence) events on a global environment. In the “self-image”, the eyes are always closed and what happened in the outside world was not important for "I". Some kind of narcissistic and self-confident “I” occupies the center of the world. This is "self" in the Chinese contemporary art.

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