ART PROGRAM

Wang Guangyi

(b. 1957, Harbin)
Wang Guangyi was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in 1957. His father was a railroad worker in northeastern China. Like many people in his generation, Wang experienced the hardships of the Cultural Revolution working in a rural village for three years. After several years of failed attempts to get into college, he enrolled at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from the oil painting department in 1984. He lives and works in Beijing, China.

Wang is one of the most recognizable figures in China's Pop Art stage, renowned for his combination of avant-garde art and impressive commercial success. This contrast should come as no surprise, as he encourages the recognition of such contradictions. Wang's art embraces seemingly antithetical elements—Pop with Tao, communism with capitalism, Christ with Mao—in order to transcend differences and analyze their interrelations. An early affiliate of China's '85 New Wave Movement, Wang helped usher in the era of contemporary Chinese art and was among the first Chinese artists to co-opt Mao Zedong iconography in his practice.

He has exhibited widely worldwide including the recent exhibitions Image Correction - Wang Guangyi, MOCA Singapore@Loewen, Singapore in 2015; Et la Chine s'est éveillée...,Chapelle De La Visitation, Espace D'Art Contemporain, Thonon-Les-Bains, France in 2013; Re-History, Chinese Contemporary Art Invitation Exhibition, Hubei Museum of Art, Wuhan, China and Thing-in-itself: Utopia, Pop and Personal Theology, Wang Guangyi Retrospective Exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China in 2012; Wang Guangyi. The Interactive Mirror Image, Tank Loft, Chongqing Contemporary Art Center, Chongqing, China in 2011; Made in Popland, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, South Korea in 2010; Beijing - Havana, China Contemporary Art Exhibition, Cuba Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba; A Collateral Event of 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, A Gift to Marco Polo, Venice, Italy; ChinaMania, Colorful, Diverse and Distinctly Narrative, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark; and Wang Guangyi, Louise Blouin Institute, London, England in 2009.

DIOR, HERMES, CHANEL

2005
OIL ON CANVAS
THE EAST WEST BANK COLLECTION
DIOR, 23.5 X 27.5 IN; HERMES, 27.5 X 23.5 IN; CHANEL, 23.5 X 27.5 IN

On display at:

CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

These three paintings belong to the "Great Criticism" series which is Wang Guangyi's best known cycle of works. Wang began this cycle in 1990 and ended it in 2007 when he became convinced that its international success would compromise the original meaning of the works, namely that political and commercial propaganda are two forms of brainwashing.

Propaganda images in red and yellow colors from the era of the Chinese Cultural Revolution are juxtaposed with famous Western brand names. Chinese communist images are combined with western icons of materialism and consumerism. Seemingly opposing ideologies, Wang points out their common goal --that of using popular imagery and name recognition to influence people's thinking and behaviors; recognizable commercial brands from the West, symbols of materialism coexisting in harmony in a supposedly socialist society.

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