Here's looking at you, kid, a thousand years from now
www.chinaview.cn 2009-03-24 09:46:36   Print

Visitors watch Yue Minjun's work at the exhibition named Archeological Discovery in AD 3009, which started on Mar.20, 2009.(Photo: Beijing Daily)
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    BEIJING, March 24 -- Artist Yue Minjun is best known for his oil portrayals of endless variations of his face with an enigmatic, jaw-breaking grin.

    But viewers to his latest solo show at Today Art Museum will find something quite different and, say his critics, some might be left confused by his new works.

Visitors watch Yue Minjun's work at the exhibition named Archeological Discovery in AD 3009, which started on Mar.20, 2009. (Photo: Beijing Daily)
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    The whole exhibition hall is arranged as if displaying excavated items from ancient times, quite appropriate for an exhibition named Archeological Discovery in AD 3009.

    Apart from a stage featuring wooden poles and squatting men with big grins, and a huge painting of smiling men dancing with dinosaurs and lizards, most exhibits are installations of real-life objects, presented like archeological findings and each with a tag that does not make sense to the viewers.

    For instance, a brass wind instrument is tagged "a broken engine for a vehicle"; a telephone is "a musical instrument to the accompaniment of Kunqu opera"; a PC display is described as "a special tool for mankind to communicate with ghosts" and a mini TV set is labeled "a primitive weapon people use in street fights".

    The archeological exhibition is set in a future where the viewers, as people living in the past, are subjects to study. The people of the future are remarkably absent, though, while the people in the past are the ones who are actually watching and coming to terms with how they are viewed in the future.

    On entering the exhibition hall, viewers may even view themselves as future people looking back.

    "It (the exhibition) is all about my thinking about how our life today would possibly be perceived by people living 1,000 years later," Yue says.

    Also on show are his pencil sketches, drafts for the exhibits and ideas on how the whole exhibition space should be arranged, revealing how his wild ideas evolved into such an interesting exhibition.

    It has a strong sense of black humor. "It offers viewers a new way of looking at the world we live in today," points out curator Huang Du.

    For one visitor, Zhang Jin, the exhibition was "a weird art project".

    "It seems that Yue is conveying his doubts and skepticism toward knowledge and the understandings of mankind today," he said. "The so-called wrong interpretations that we see in this exhibition may not be too far from some of today's ridiculous theories."

    Yue is widely known as part of the Chinese "Cynical Realist" movement in art that has developed in China since the late 1980s.

    Born in 1962 in Daqing, Heilongjiang province, Yue studied at the oil painting department of Hebei Normal University in the mid 1980s.

    Trying to figure out a way to weave the country's dramatic experiences into his works, Yue drew inspiration from a painting by Geng Jianyi at the China/Avant Garde show in Beijing, in 1989. The work depicted Geng's own laughing face.

    Since then, Yue has been painting his self-portrait with exaggerated facial expressions and reproduced this signature image in sculptures, watercolors and prints. His signature grin has become one of the most recognizable images on the Chinese Pop Art scene.

    (Source: chinadaily.com.cn)

Editor: Ma Tianjiao
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