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 Minjun Yue  (1962 - )

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Lived/Active: China      Known for: post-modern, laughing face motif painting, sculpture, installations

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BIOGRAPHY for Minjun Yue
1962 (Daqing, Heilongjiang Province, China)

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post-modern, laughing face motif painting, sculpture, installations

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Living in Beijing, Minjun Yue is a representative of Cynical Realism, a movement which developed in the post-1989 era in Chinese art. 1989 not only marks the events at Tiananmen Square but also the closure of the China Avant Garde exhibition at the National Gallery by the government.

Minjun's work always features a laughing face, his own, in an exaggerated way, thus giving the image often a cynical or mocking appearance. The use of bright colors, the expression of the figures, often remind of the propaganda posters in earlier times of communism.

He also made approximately 15 paintings, which are reworks of iconic images from Western and Chinese art history.

Yue Minjun was selected for the 1999 Venice Biennale.

Sources include:
Chinese Contemporary, London, England

Biography from Tobin Reese Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Yue Minjun (1962-) is a contemporary Chinese painter and sculptor who is famous for his installation art and depictions of himself laughing. Although many would classify him as a cynical realist, Yue himself rejects that label; he is known for seamlessly combining European and Chinese artistic tradition with a pop art aesthetic, deeply rooted in a simultaneous respect and cynicism for the artists that have preceded him.

Yue was born in Daqing, Heilongjiang Province, China, to oilfield workers. Although he was able to study art in his spare time, he spent most of his hours working at the oilfield. For a time, he also worked as an electrician. At both of these jobs, Yue would paint his coworkers, depicting the real-life situations and characters that made up his life.

In 1989, Yue encountered a painting by Chinese artist Geng Jianyi in which the artist was depicted laughing; Yue instantly felt a connection to this sort of work and the idea would pervade his output to the present time. In the same year, the June Fourth Massacre in Tiananmen Square caused to Yue to reevaluate his life priorities and his stance towards government; in response, he quit his job and moved into an artists' commune in Beijing. During his time there, he began to paint his now famous laughing faces in addition to portraits of his fellow artists.

While his laughing faces brought him acclaim from the masses, his portraits gave him the artistic validation he deserved from the art community. Based on the success of his paintings, he began to branch out into sculpture, transferring the aesthetic qualities of his laughing faces onto sculptures which have been installed in many prominent locations. He has remarked many times that his laughing face sculptures can be related to the Chinese terracotta warriors of the Qin Dynasty.

He continues to reside in Beijing, now able to produce art full-time.

Ian Martyn for Tobin Reese Fine Art

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