Cartier Contemporary Art Foundation Holds Yue Minjun’s Solo Exhibition ‘shadow Of Laughing’

From November 14, 2012 to March 17, 2013, Cartier Contemporary Art Foundation will host Yue Minjun’s first large-scale solo exhibition in Europe. Cartier Contemporary Art Foundation hosts Yue Minjun’s first large-scale solo exhibition in Europe
    From November 14, 2012 to March 17, 2013, the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art will host Yue Minjun’s first large-scale solo exhibition in Europe. This is a rare opportunity for us to discover this famous and low-key artist. Most of his works are composed of bright colors and grotesque characters. Through these grotesque symbols, he expresses mockery and irony about the current situation of Chinese contemporary society and human living conditions. This exhibition consists of nearly 40 paintings from collections around the world and hundreds of sketches that have never been on display, fully showing the working characteristics of the artist who refuses any explanation.
Laughter as a vent: a profound reflection on the spiritual life of the new generation in contemporary Chinese society
    Yue Minjun was born in Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, China in 1962. In the early days, he was just a painter. In 1985, Yue Minjun was admitted to the Fine Arts Department of Hebei Normal University. In the early 1990s, he came to the Yuanmingyuan Painter Village near Beijing. It was there that he began to establish his own style, with ‘laugh’ as his theme. It was during this period that a new art genre emerged in the Chinese art world—Cynical Realism, and Yue Minjun was often regarded as one of the representatives of this genre. Affected by a completely different social climate from the 1980s and the opening of the Chinese economy to the world, these young artists broke with ‘socialist realism’ and ‘avant-garde art’. They looked at the reality with a more pungent and sharper eye, and thus Faded the color of idealism. When talking about his creation, Yue Minjun said frankly: ‘Of course I want to change, but I ca n’t change, I can only face it with a smile.’
Self-portrait: a uniform laugh, thrown head-on to the world
    The figures in Yue Minjun’s paintings and sculptures always grin openly, eyes closed. These faces remained fixed and impenetrable masks in their weird manners. As François Jullien puts it in the exhibit catalogue of this exhibition: ‘This stereotyped laughter blocks all the search for intentionality, it builds a wall, forbids entry and blocks any feeling . After repeated iterations, it shows that it is impossible to pass anything on. ‘Yue Minjun’s portraits in his early works first portrayed his friends, and then these portraits gradually merged into the same face: Yue Minjun’s own face. From then on, these portraits are like countless mirrors, from which everyone sees what they want to see: the comics of China’s uniform society, the way to survive in the absurd world, or just a kind of self-mockery the way. The copy of this ‘laugh’ is also a source of endless images. The exaggerated faces of the same person can occupy the entire canvas, or they can be copied and arranged to an infinite number. Whether they appear in comic style, comic style, poetic style, or tragedy style, these strange images continue some of the rules of cartoons. Here, absurdity becomes normal, and everything seems to be possible.
Beyond ‘Cynical Realism’: A Hidden Mystery of Aesthetics
    It is customary to classify Yue Minjun’s work as ‘Cynical Realism’. However, under this classification, Yue Minjun’s work also shows its own characteristics. It is both confusing and complex, which is a hidden mystery aesthetic. It involves Chinese public holy places, brand cars, airplanes, and dinosaurs, as well as Chinese folk imagery and art history, or a gameplay of various images. In these combination games, artists are allowed to splice at will, and each symbol in them can be interpreted multiple times. In the painting ‘Execution’, the painter seems to randomly disturb the marks in it. This work is inspired by Edward Manet’s 1867 execution of ‘Mexico’s Emperor Massimilino’. However, all characters in Execution were replaced by characters who laughed. In the ‘Unmanned Landscape’ series, Yue Minjun copied the works of Chinese and foreign masters, but emptied the characters in it, leaving only unrecognizable desolate scenes, which turned into unexpected structures or lunar scenery. In the face of these infinitely diversified, the audience seems to be lost in the maze game without exit. This is the strength and agility of Yue Minjun’s works that have been developing since the 1990s.
    Between repetition and diversity, each of Yue Minjun’s works echoes in his whole. Today, for the first time, these mysterious and disturbing works are concentrated in the same space for display, and people can better experience the unparalleled visual power in Yue Minjun’s works.