Wang Guangyi

China 1957

Sculpture, Neo-pop

Wang Guangyi
Wang Guangyi
October 30, 2014

Wang Guangyi is a Chinese artist, born in 1957 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province. He is known as a leader of the New Art Movement that started in China after 1989. His father was a railway worker in northeastern China. Like many other young people at the time, Wang was also sent to work in rural village. This was common practice at that time in China, as a part of Cultural Revolution. Wang spent three years working in village. He also became a railway worker. Wanting to study art, he tried to get into college. For four years he was unsuccessful, but eventually he enrolled at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. In 1984 he graduated from the oil painting department. In China, his work is considered to be a Political Pop genre, which some think is an error.

In his early works in the mid-1980s, it can be seen that the North Pole is a main and recurring theme. In his art this doesn’t represent geographic location, but it has a symbolic purpose as a place where new faith is born. At this time, when he was creating his Frozen North Pole cycle (1984-1985), he was a part of artistic group known as Artists of the North. After this followed his Post Classical series (1986-1988), in which he worked on a revision of great Western works of art that had themes like religion, morality, faith and ideology. Wang’s most famous cycle of work is the Great Criticism (1990-2007) in which he uses propaganda images of the Cultural Revolution and combines them with Western contemporary logos from advertisements. This cycle ended in 2007, because of the international success for which Wang believed that will compromise the original meaning of the works, as his belief is that political and commercial propaganda are two main forms of brainwashing. In 1990s, he created series and installations VISA (1995-1998), Passport (1994-1995), and Virus Carriers (1996-1998). These feature images of infants, adults, and dogs accompanied by their respective names, places, dates of birth and genders. Titles of these works are imprinted onto these images. These works represent artist’s opinion of the relationship that Power has with the individual. This relationship is based on maintaining control over individual by psychological pressure of increasing collective fears and offering itself as a sanctuary from dangers that could suddenly strike. Between Power and individual forms such a relationship in which individual renounces (a part of) freedom, and in exchange receives protection. During the 2000s, Wang created his series titled Materialist (2001-2005). This series contains sculptures made from the images of twelve workers, farmers and soldiers that were taken from propaganda images. In these he tried to express for what he believes is the main force of the people, and that their anger, expressed in their movements, derives from faith in ideology. He emphasizes an image of general feeling of the people while referencing dialectic materialism. The term Materialism is particularly important in Chinese history, because it summarizes beliefs of the socialist ideology. Wang also made cycle called Cold War Aesthetics (2007-2008) that contain historical reconstructions of the Cold War period. In these works he tried to capture and show to the spectator, psychological effects of the propaganda of that era. In his next series of oil paintings, titled New Religion (2011), he represented great political (Lenin, Stalin, Mao) and spiritual (Christ) leaders, as well as the philosophers whose thoughts continues to exert its influence today (Marx and Engels). In this cycle, he asks about commonalities between utopias, fascination they cause in humans, and the need people share, about finding figures to place their faith on.

Wang, like others, has become a millionaire, one of China’s so called nouveau riches. In China, such painters, are called Bopu dashi or Pop masters. His successful career and fast growing wealth have drawn some criticism. Along with the price of his works, some have also questioned his artistic value. Some critics claim that Wang, “has lost his artistic ingenuity, gives in to the market, and has also become dependent on repeating his already successful works”.

Wang Guangyi now lives and works in Beijing, China.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2011Wang Guangyi The Interactive Mirror Image, Tank LoftChongqing Contemporary Art CenterSolo
2008Visual PoliticsHe Xiangning Art Museum, GuangdongSolo
2008Cold War Aesthetics, Wang GuangyiInstitute of Louisse Blouin Foundation, London, U.K.Solo
2007Wang GuangyiGalerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, FranceSolo
2006Wang GuangyiGallery Arario, Seoul, KoreaSolo
2004Wang GuangyiGallery Urs Meile, Lucerne, SwitzerlandSolo
2003Wang GuangyiGallery Enrico Navarra, Paris, FranceSolo
2001Wang Guangyi, Face of FaithSoobin Art Int'L, SingaporeSolo
1997Wang GuangyiGallery Klaus Littmann, BaselSolo
1994Wang GuangyiHanart TZ Gallery, Hong KongSolo
1993Wang GuangyiBellet Gallery, Paris, FranceSolo
2011Museum on paperIberia Center for contemporary ArtGroup
2010Made in poplandNational Museum of Contemporary artGroup
2010The Constructed Dimension, 2010 Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational ExhibitionNational Art Musume of China, BeijingGroup
2010PortraitShanghART Gallery, ShanghaiGroup
2010Reshaping History: Chinart from 2000-2009, Special DocumentaChina National Convention Center, BeijingGroup
2010Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary ArtMinsheng Art Museum, ShanghaiGroup
2010Fairy Tales Selections from the MaGMA's collectionOpera Gallery, SingaporeGroup
2010Photo Exhibition of Contemporary ArtistsToday Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2010Art for The World (The Expo)World Expo by JGM Gallery, ShanghaiGroup
2009Beijing - Havana, China contemporary art exhibitionCuba Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, CubaGroup
2009Collision, Experimental Cases of Contemporary Chinese ArtCAFA Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2009First Annual Conference of Collectors of Chinese Contemporary ArtHejingyuan Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2009Retrospect and ExplorationHu Bei Province Art MuseumGroup
2009Yi Pai - Century Thinking A Contemporary Art ExhibitionToday Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2009ShanghART Group ShowShanghART Gallery, ShanghaiGroup
2009Another scene - artists' projects, concepts and ideasShanghART H-Space, ShanghaiGroup
2009Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg CollectionPeabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass, U.S.A.Group
2009The 20th Anniversary of The Fall of The Berlin WallBerlin, GermanyGroup
2009A Collateral Event of 53nd International Art Exhibition-La Biennale di Venezia, A Gift to Marco PoloVenezia, ItalyGroup
2009ChinaMania, Colorful,Diverse and Distinctly NarrativeArken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
2009Strategy On Paper, Works On Paper InvitationalSquare Gallery of Contemporary Art, NanjingGroup
2009State Legacy, A Visual History Project On The State ConceptThe Holden Gallery, Manchester, U.K.; OCT Contemporary Art Terminal of He Xiangning Art Museum, ShenzhenGroup
2008Five Years of Duolun: Chinese Contemporary Art Retrospective ExhibitionShanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, ShanghaiGroup
2008Lovely Blossoms and Full moon, YUZ Collection of Chinese Contemporary ArtYUZ Museum, Darmawangsa Square unit 31-33, The City Walk, JI. Darmawangsa VI&IX, JakartaGroup
2008The Love of Art: Collection of Contemporary Art in ChinaToday Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2008The Revolution Continues, New Art From ChinaThe Saatchi GalleryGroup
2008Avant-Garde China: Twenty Years of Chinese Contemporary ArtThe National Art Center, Tokyo; The National Museum of Art, Osaka; Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, JapanGroup
2008Our Future, The Guy & Myriam Ullens Foundation CollectionUllens Foundation, BeijingGroup
2008Case Studies of Artists in Art History and Art CriticismSZ Art Center, BeijingGroup
2008Writing on the Wall, Chinese New Realism and Avant-Garde in the Eighties and ninetiesThe Groninger Museum, Groningen, The NetherlandsGroup
2008People. History, Exhibition of Studies of Chinese Art of The 20th CenturyMuseum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts, BeijingGroup
2008Red, Smooth and Luminescent Contemporary ExpressionXindong Cheng Gallery,BeijingGroup
2008EncounterPace Beijing, BeijingGroup
2008Today's ChinaBelvue Museum, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2008UNPACKMuseum of China Academy of Fine Arts, HangzhouGroup
2008Academic and Un-Academic IIExhibition of Yibo Gallery, ShanghaiGroup
2007Absolute Images IIInaugural Exhibition Of Arario Gallery New York, Arario Gallery New YorkGroup
200785 New Wave - The Birth of Chinese Contemporary ArtUllens Center for Contemporary Art, BeijingGroup
2007Wuhan 2nd Documentary Exhibition of Fine ArtsHubei Museum of Art, WuhanGroup
2007Strategy on Paper, Works on Paper Invitational ExhibitionSquare Gallery of contemporary Art, NanjingGroup
2007Sport in ArtMuseum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai; Art of Guangzhou Art Academy Guangzhou; RCM the Museum of Modern Art, Nanjing; Gallery of Luxun Art Academy, Shengyang; Sichuan Fine Arts Museum, Sichuan; Today Art Museum, BeijingGroup
20071997- 2007 Awakening From a Ten Year SleepHJY Art Center, BeijingGroup
2007The Supplemental History, Contemporary Art Works From Collection of Guangdong MuseumGuangdong Museum of Art, GuangzhouGroup
2007Red Hot, Asian Art TodayMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston, U.S.A.Group
2007Post- Martial Law VS Post- 89, The Contemporary Art In Taiwai and ChinaTaiwan Museum of Art, Taiwan; Songzhuang Art Center, BeijingGroup
2007Chinese Contemporary SotsartThe State Tretykov Gallery, Moscow, RussiaGroup
2007We Are You Future, Special Project in Moscow Biennale 2007The Old Winery, Moscow, RussiaGroup
2006Art in MotionMoCA, ShanghaiGroup
2006The Blossoming of Realism, The Oil Painting of Mainland China Since 1978Taipei Fine Art MuseumGroup
2006Create History, Commemoration Exhibition of Chinese Modern Art in 1980sOCT Contemporary Art Terminal of He Xiangning Art Museum, ShengzhenGroup
2006From "The Frigid Zone" to "The Old Industrial Area, Northeast Contemporary Art Exhibition of China 1985-2006Guangdong Museum of ArtGroup
2006Absolute Images IArario Gallery, Seoul, KoreaGroup
2006Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg CollectionHamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
2006Plato and His Seven SpiritsCentury OCT, Shenzhen, Guangdong; Century OCT, BeijingGroup
2006JianghuJack Tilton Art Galleries, New York, USAGroup
2005Mahjong, Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg CollectionKunstmuseum Bern, Bern, SwitzerlandGroup
2005Beautiful CynicismArario Gallery, BeijingGroup
20058th International Exhibition of Sculpture and InstallationVenice, Lido, ItalyGroup
2005Body Temperature, invoking the Legacy of Hans Christian Anderson Through Chinese Contemporary ArtNor djyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg, DenmarkGroup
2004New BoundariesTaikang Top Space, BeijingGroup
2004Art on The Beach, SculpturesGallery Enrico Navarra, Paris, France; Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong; ADAGP, Paris, FranceGroup
2004Chine, le corps partout? (China, the body everywhere?)Museum of Contemporary Art, Marseilles, FranceGroup
2003Beyond BoundariesShanghai Gallery of Art, ShanghaiGroup
2003CP Open Biennale 2003National Gallery, Jakarta, IndonesiaGroup
2003An Opening Era, Celebration of 40th Anniversary of Founding of China National MuseumChina National Museum of Fine ArtGroup
2003From China with Art, The Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese ArtIndonesian National Gallery; Edwin's Gallery, Jakarta, IndonesiaGroup
2003Subversion and Poetry, Contemporary Chinese ArtCulturgest, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
2003Alors la Chine?Centre Pompidou, Paris, FranceGroup
2002The First Guangzhou Trienniale - Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art (1990 - 2000)Guangdong Museum of Art, GuangzhouGroup
2002The Power of ImageHe Xiangning Art Museum, ShenzhenGroup
2002Golden Harvest, Chinese Contemporary ArtZagreb Museum of Art, Croatia, YugoslaviaGroup
2002Media and ArtsWorld Trade Center Exhibition Hall, BeijingGroup
2002Take Part IIGalerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, SwitzerlandGroup
2002Chinese ModernityFundacao Armando Alvares Penteado, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2002A Point in TimeMeilun Art Museun, Changsha, HunanGroup
2002Conceptual Images, 2002 Chinese Contemporary Oil Painting ExhibitionShenzhen Art Museum, GuangdongGroup
2002Paris-Pekin, Chinese Contemporary Art ExhibitionEspace Pierre Cardin, Paris, FranceGroup
2001Transplantation in SituHe Xiangning Art Museum, ShenzhengGroup
20015 Chinese Avant- Garde ArtistsArtside Gallery, Seoul, KoreaGroup
2001Next Generation, Art Contemporain d' AsiePassage de Retz Galerie, Paris, FranceGroup
2001Towards a New Image, Twenty Years of Chinese Contemporary PaintingThe National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai; Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou; Sichuan Modern Art Museum, ChengduGroup
2001As long as they catch mice...Munkeruphus Gallery, Mumkerphus, DanmarkGroup
2001Polypolis - Art from Asian Pacific MegacitiesHamburger Kunsthaus, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
200020th Century Chinese Oil Painting ExhibitionNational Art Ggallery, BeijingGroup
2000SocietyThe 2nd Academic Exhibition Upriver Gallery, Upriver Gallery, ChengduGroup
2000Door of The New CneturyChengdu Art Gallery, ChengduGroup
2000In and OutHe Xiangning Art Museum, ShengZhen; Australia Embassy, BeijingGroup
2000Futuro Chinese Contemporary ArtContemporary Art Centre, MacauGroup
1999Fortune Global Forum, Contemporary Art ExhibitionJinmao Podium Bldg., ShanghaiGroup
1999Open Channels, The First Collection Exhibition of Dongyu Museum of Fine ArtsDongyu Museum of Fine Arts, ShengyangGroup
1999Inside Out, New Chinese ArtMuseo de Art Contemporaneo, Monterrey, Mexico; Tacoma Art Museum, Stettle; The Henry Art Gallery, Washing D.C., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, U.S.A.Group
1998Inside Out, New Chinese ArtAsia Society Galleries, New York, U.S.A.Group
1998In and OutThe Plimsol Gallery, Canberra School of Art , AustraliaGroup
1998China!, Touring ExhibitionHaus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, GermanyGroup
1997In and OutDr Earl Lu Gallery, Lasalle-Sia College of The Arts, Singapore; RMIT Gallery, Sydney College of The Art Gallery, AustraliaGroup
1998China!Kuenstlerhaus, Wien, AustriaGroup
1998Red & Grey-8 Chinese ArtistsSoobin, SingaporeGroup
1998Magie der Zahl-In der Kunst des 20 JahrhundertsStaatsgalerie, Stuttgart, GermanyGroup
1998Faces and Bodies of the Middle Kingdom, Chinese Art of the 1990'Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech; OTSO Gallery, Espoo, FinlandGroup
1998Quotation Marks, Chinese Contemporary PaintingsNational Art Museum, SingaporeGroup
1996The Second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary ArtQueensland, AustraliaGroup
1996Begegnungen Mit ChinaLudwig Forum Fur Internationale, Kunst, GermanyGroup
1996China!, Touring ExhibitionKunstmuseum Bonn, GermanyGroup
1996Existence and Environment the Chinese Way:The first Academic Exhibition of Chinese Contenporary ArtThe Art Museum of Capital Normal University, BeijingGroup
1995Art to SwatchThe Museum of Architecture and Design, The Chicago Athenaeum, Chicago, USAGroup
1995KampnagelHalle-K3, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
1995New Asian Art Show: China, Korea, Japan Touring ExhibitionTokyo & Fukuoka, JapanGroup
1995Beyond Ideology: New Art from ChinaHaus der Kulturen der Welt, Hamburg, GermanyGroup
1995Des Pais del Centre, Avantguardes Artistiques XinesesSanta Monica Art Centre, Barcelona, SpainGroup
1994Seoul 600 International Art FestivalNational Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, KoreaGroup
199422nd International Biennial of Sao PauloBrazilGroup
199345th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale - Cardinal Points of the ArtsVenice, ItalyGroup
1993China's New Art, Post-1989, New Art from ChinaMuseum of Modern Art, Oxford, U.K.Group
1993China's New Art, Post-1989, Political Pop, China's New ArtHanart Taipei Gallery, TaipeiGroup
1993China's New ArtMarlborough Gallery, London, U.K.Group
1993Mao Goes Pop, China Post '89Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Victoria National Gallery, Melbourne, AustraliaGroup
1993China Avant-garde, Touring ExhibitionHaus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Kunsthall, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Brandts Klaederfabrik, Odense, Denmark; Hildesheim Art Gallery, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, U.K.Group
1993China's New Art, Post-1989Hong Kong Arts Centre and City Hall, Hong KongGroup
1992Art AsiaHong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong KongGroup
1992The First Bienniale Art ExhibitionGuangzhouGroup
1991CocartGallery Bianca Pilat, Milan, ItalyGroup
1990I don`t Want to Play Cards with CezannePacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, California, USAGroup
1990Modern Chinese ArtTokyo Art Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1989Special ExhibitionChinese Contemporary Art, Tokyo Gallery, JapanGroup
1989China, Avant-Garde Art ExhibitionNational Art Museum of China, BeijingGroup
1988Chinese ContemporaryThe Museum of Fine Arts, GIFU, JapanGroup
1984The 6th Art Exhibition of People's Republic of ChinaChina National Art Gallery, BeijingGroup