Irony and Satire -- on Wang Qingsong's photo works Li Xianting 2000

Irony and Satire -- on Wang Qingsong's photo works

Li Xianting, 2000

Wang Qingsong's works is typical of satirical parody and were influenced by the 90's works of French artists Pierre and Gilles that place the artists as actors in different pop culture scenarios. Wang's works include "Thinker" and "Requesting Buddha," with the latter one imitating a Buddhist follower in meditation. He has the posture and expression of someone praying, but on his chest is carved a McDonald's symbol and in his hand a name brand object, expressing a kind of "worship" of name brands. It also makes clear the way in which consumer culture changes not only outer appearances, but also people's inner spirits and beliefs.Wearing only striped underpants and sitting on a leaf of cabbage that sits on a trashcan, he becomes a blasphemous and farcical symbol of the kind of worship of wealth typical of peasants who get rich quickly. For his more recent works, "Finding Fun," "Look Up! Look Up!" and "Bathhouse," he invited "models" to act out scenes that imply complex contemporary plotlines, such as "Night Revels of Lao Li" which imitates "Night Revel of Han Xizai."

("Night Revels of Han Xizai" is a famous painting from ancient China. Emperor Li feared that the ambitious officer Han Xizai was plotting a rebellion against him and dispatched a painter Gu Hongzhong to spy on his life. Gu Hongzhong painted Han Xizai's licentious life and a worried, anxious Han Xizai.) "Night Revels of Lao Li" is an imitation of "Lao Li's Debaucherous Life." By appearing as an artist in the work, Wang Qingsong reveals that he plays a voyeur in "Lao Li's Debaucherous Life" and is also a revealer of contemporary society. Furthermore, his observations are turned into voyeurism through the reality that what is forbidden by law in the day happens with the consent and participation of the authorities at night. This change in roles reveals the vulgarity and hypocrisy inherent in the "debaucherous lives" that force people to establish an honorable reputation while still being a prostitute. The other works of Wang Qingsong directly emulate the scenarios of instant gratification and endless consumption that have become the "national lifestyle" in China: female models dressed up in cheap and pornographic costumes encircling the artist and his male friends, who are dressed up in everyday clothing.

Wang Qingsong is the most prolific and important artist in Gaudy Art. His earlier works were painted on silk velvet, a traditional Chinese fabric. Later on, he started to apply photography as his medium of artistic expression. The triptych work "Past, Present and Future" emulates the typical public sculptures in the socialist camp which can be found in most cities in socialist countries. Wang Qingsong asked live models to stage this three-part photograph and cover the model's bodies with terra-cotta, silver and gold powers to play out the crowds who hold things representing the past, present and future. For example, in "Past", models hold weapons in the revolutionary period; in "Present", models hold production tools and revolutionary flag in socialist times; in "Future", models hold fruit baskets, lantern, TV antenna representing high-tech while the artist himself stands in the middle holding two pans like cymbals to celebrate the possible victory. This work is full of satire. Therefore, Gaudy Art in China has its particular and unique cultural significance, which is, besides the shared features in kitschy, shadow and superficial tastes, it is of special "Chinese characteristic", which is novo-rich peasant taste in China was triggered and worsened by American consumer culture¡­.. .. --- abbreviated from "Alor! La Chine!", in the Center of Pompidou, 2003.)

(Mr. Li Xianting, art critic and curator, plays a significant role in introducing Chinese contemporary art to the world. He writes a lot of essays on the role of art and published widely around the world. )

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