chinese contemporary art
New York Exhibitions>> Wu Junyong

Wu Junyong's animation DVD works are the most exciting creations to come from the younger generation of contemporary Chinese artists. Just as the great contemporary painters of the first generation of the Chinese avant garde captured the zeitgeist of China in the 1990s, Wu Junyong captures it of wealthy China in 2007. Born in 1978, the artist has grown up in a country that is in a continual state of change as it manages its transformation from a closed, severely restricted society to one that is open to the outside and increasingly flexible. It is an explosive situation with opportunities and temptations of many shapes and colors. It is a world thrilling and frightening, surreal and fantastic - the site of the future bathed in the past.

The Opera series - Opera I, II and III - form a satirical comment on politics. Originating from the wholly Chinese context in which Wu Junyong lives and works, never having left China before January 2007, the artist believes him comments are extendable to politicians and politics worldwide.

Politicians, like actors or characters in a DVD, perform on a stage. Their platform for expression and self promotion also serves to expose all the ridicule and human frailties of their situation. The combination of image and sound give a vision of a surreal domain in which these characters operate. The artist has created a number of signs, many recognizable by the Chinese, to compose his satire of the political scene:

pointed hats: signs of power but also shaped to look like horns and thus signs of combat

blowing flags & arms held out straight pointing in various directions: the capacity to change direction to confirm with the prevailing trend

pointed green hats: signals a cuckold

an extra leg: the person is having an affair

many extra legs: a Casanova!

person blowing up a cow like a balloon: a bragger

person patting another's behind: a bootlicker

person with a fat stomach: a politician - having eaten too much at too many official banquets

person on horse or "riding" two flags: reference to village festivals and national holidays where people dress up and ride paper and wood horses. Seen from the back = a buffoon.

a tower of people: the one on the top is the most important, the others represent the connections the top man needed to get there and replies upon to stay there

a man with a conductor's wand: the orchestration of politicians' behavior

large seal with man as handle: all politicians aspire to absolute power as once held by the Chinese Emperor. The Emperor's seal, the largest seal in China, was one sign of this power. The artist depicts a grand seal with a little man in place of the handle to indicate and also to mock these aspirations.

any object or character off center: all is not quite as it should be

a number of people all together in a big bowl: a reference to the canteens of the Cultural Revolution where everyone ate together for free at the government's expense

a gigantic pink rosette: the size parallels the politicians desire to receive a rosette which indicates a job well done

the dropping face: this person has no shame, a perfidious character

Chinese Contemporary is exhibiting Wu Junyong's DVDs, stills from the DVDs and drawings.

You may also learn more about Wu Junyong on our Beijing website under the "artists" section.