Contemporary Art

Fang Lijun

China 1963

Contemporary Realism

Fang Lijun
Fang Lijun
November 3, 2014
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

The art of a Chinese artist Fang Lijun is characterized by a few themes that connect his works like a red line. Bald-headed men, water, clouds and the sky. He is best known for a woodblock printmaking.

Fang Lijun was born in 1963 in Hebei province, so his memories as a child and youth were marked by the years of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermaths that lasted until roughly the late 1970s. He had studied ceramics at the Hebei Light Industry Technology School, and later woodblock printing and painting at the renowned Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. At the Academy he developed an interest in woodblock printmaking and painting. He graduated in 1989 at the Fine Art Academy of Beijing.

His career began in the 1990s, when he exhibited outside China and could even participate in the Venice Biennale twice, in 1993 and in 1999. He came to ultimate international fame when the American Time magazine had published one of his paintings on the cover of the December issue of 1993.

Fang Lijun is regarded as a major proponent of a modern Chinese art movement called Cynical Realism. The term was created by Li Xianting, a famous art critic, publisher and mentor who has supported the Chinese avant-garde artists since the 1980s among others as publisher of an art magazine.

When Fang Lijun began his art studies, the academies were still teaching art in the tradition of Social Realism and old Chinese art. Woodblock printmaking was originally invented in China, and only later it was refined in Japan to what we call today Ukiyo-e.

It is a special merit of Fang Lijun that he picked up Chinese woodblock printmaking and integrated this technique into his personal style and technique. The artist’s specialty are monumental wall “paintings” that are put together by many panels of woodblock prints.

Fang Lijun’s art has developed since the 1990s. But his subjects have remained the same. He shows dumb-looking, stout men in water, or against a sky. Also clouds are a frequent element in Fang Lijun’s images. Some of the paintings remind of the images of Mao Zedong’s famous swims in the Yangtze river, a once carefully orchestrated political propaganda demonstration.

Fang Lijun’s artworks are meticulously executed. This is a common characteristic of contemporary Chinese artists. After all, they all went through an art training that put a lot of emphasis on skill.

Today Fang Lijun lives and works in Beijing and Dali in Taiwan.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2014The new Body of WorkArt & Public, GenevaSolo
2014The 1st Xinjiang International Arts BiennaleXinjiang International Arts Biennale, UrumqiGroup
2014Right Is Wrong: Four Decades of Chinese Art from the M+ Sigg CollectionBildmuseet, UmeåGroup
2013Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary ChinaThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
2013Portrait Of The Times - 30 Years Of Contemporary ArtPower Station of Art, ShanghaiGroup
2013Individual Growth - The Momentum of Contemporary ArtTianjin Museum of Fine Arts, TianjinGroup
2013Voyage and AwakeningFAAM - Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, FukuokaGroup
2012Fang Lijun: DocumentaMuseum of Contemporary Art - MOCA@Loewen, SingaporeSolo
2012The breakthroughCP Foundation, JakartaSolo
2012Re-Ink Invitational Exhibition Of Contemporary Ink And Wash Painting 2010-2012Hubei Museum of Art, Wuhan, HubeiGroup
2012Future Pass World ExhibitionToday Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2012Look AwayHive Center for Contemporary Art, BeijingGroup
2011Six + six: energy, leftGallery Yang, BeijingGroup
2011Painters From ChinaMeulensteen (Former Max Protetch), New York City, NYGroup
2010Recycling of the classic - limited edition art famous CarnivalGallery Yang, BeijingGroup
2010Western China International Art BiennialWestern China International Art Biennial, BeijingGroup
2010Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary ArtMinsheng Art Museum, ShanghaiGroup
2010Facing EastInitial Access Frank Cohen Collection, WolverhamptonGroup
2009Fang Lijun: Thread of TimeThe Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, GuangdongSolo
2009Fang Lijun. Sea and SkyKunsthalle Bielefeld, BielefeldSolo
2009Endlessness of life: 25 Years Retrospect of Fang LijunTaipei Fine Arts Museum, TaipeiSolo
2009Chasing FlamesKlein Sun Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2009ChinamaniaARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, IshojGroup
2009The China ProjectQueensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLDGroup
2008Fang Lijun - Gigantic Woodcuts in ColourVendsyssel Kunstmuseum, HjørringSolo
2008Fang Lijun - Gigantic woodcuts in coloursThe Faroe Islands Art Museum, ThorshavnSolo
2008ChinasRevision - Fokus BeijingLudwig Museum im Deutschherrenhaus, KoblenzGroup
20083rd Nanjing TriennialNanjing Triennial, Nanjing, JiangsuGroup
2008The ORIGIN: The First Annual Moon River Sculpture FestivalThe Moon River Museum of Contemporary Art (MR MoCA), BeijingGroup
2008China Here And NowMadelyn Jordon Fine Art, Scarsdale, NYGroup
2007The Power of UniverseThe Frontier of Contemporary Chinese Art - Asia Art Center, TaipeiGroup
2006Life is NowGaleri Nasional Indonesia, JakartaSolo
2004Fang Lijun: Woodcuts + PaperworksALEXANDER OCHS GALLERIES BERLIN | BEIJING, BerlinSolo
2004Fang Lijun - WoodcutsThomas Erben Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2002Fang Lijun - Zwischen Peking und DaliLudwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, AachenSolo