Yue Minjun.


26.10.2006 – 25.11.2006

Yue Minjun is best known for his “laughing faces” series. These smiles are meant to remind us of the need to cherish the truths of the Buddhist teachings in all the goals we set for ourselves in life, and even in the face of stress and adversity, we must not lose control or let ourselves go to negative feelings. The series of works presented in our space is entitled: “Manipulation”.

Its Chinese title contains an interesting word: quli. In Chinese, this word has many nuances of meaning, and “manipulation” is just one of them. Yue Minjun certainly shares this type of association with childhood because his choice of the theme of quli, with all its implications, is present as a common thread throughout his work.

The three main subjects of the “Manipulation” series are:
– Images of traditional Chinese and Western oil paintings, often famous classical works.
– Photographs of the current news, especially those of “staged propaganda” of the Cultural Revolution and images from contemporary magazines.
– Stills from films – these were often published in popular “film books” that used the comic book format to tell the storylines of new movies. “Manipulation” involves a change in the thing handled.

In Yue Minjun’s paintings, “manipulation” first involves painting a “pale” copy of the original work, then, before the paint dries, scribbling over the image with large circular brushstrokes. After being “manipulated” or “managed” in this way, the new work is invested with a kind of intra-distancing of the visual plans: the observer is forced to look between and beyond the tangle of scribbled brushstrokes to see the original “real” image below.

Yue “cleans up” and “puts in order” memories and experiences from his past. And all of these memories and experiences are not just his, but ours all. The times and the society we were born into represent major forces that we cannot escape: we have all grown up within their restrictions.

By establishing a special relationship between the act of manipulation and the object being manipulated, Yue creates a situation in which two different images are inextricably entangled and obscure each other, creating a new kind of visual tension. Conceptually, this tension stems from Yue’s reaction and challenge against the usual rules for approaching and narrating classical works of art and photographed images.

By disrupting and deconstructing both the original creative intention and the mode of expression of these images, Yue creates a new narrative or perhaps an anti-narrative.