This is the first monograph conceived for the international market devoted to one of the most important Chinese contemporary artists. Wang Guangyi is considered one of the emblems of new China, because his work underlines, through new expressive language forms, the deep social changes the country is experiencing. This monograph reveals for the first time the entire oeuvre of the artist, whose works are classified in China under the genre of Political Pop, and are kept in the collections of the most important museums and foundations in the world. Born in Heilongjiang Province in 1956, Wang Guangyi became one of the great stars of contemporary Chinese art through his Great Criticism series. Through the juxtaposition of two definitely opposing ideologies, each represented through iconic symbols, Guangyi criticises Communism and consumerism while negating both by combining them skilfully. Stylistically merging the government-enforced aesthetic of Agitprop with the kitsch sensibility of American Pop, Guangyi's work adopts the cold-war language of the 1960s to ironically examine the contemporary issues of globalisation.
Through their critique, Guangyi's paintings weave intricate narratives, implying the role of the artist as an active participant (both as subjugator and subservient) in economic and social policies. Guangyi treads a very delicate line between moral dictum and capitalist endorsement; the interpretation of his paintings alternates with the subjectivity of context. Amalgamating, confusing and blurring opposing ideological beliefs, Guangyi's billboard-sized canvases readily sell out national valour, while simultaneously devaluing status symbol luxury for the proletariat cause.
Demetrio Paparoni, critic and curator, has edited numerous monographs and contributed to catalogs of artists such as Anish Kapoor, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, and Edward Hopper.