Yue Minjun – A frozen laughter

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We saw Yue Minjun‘s works for the first time three years ago, when we visited the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. His exhibition left a deep impression on us…so we decided to evoke that experience once again!


The Chinese contemporary artist is well known for his oil portraits, where he paints himself in different environments but all the time with a giggling visage. Besides that, his grotesque style, the vivid colors, and the large formats make his paintings immediately recognizable.

It all started for him with a painting by Geng Jianyi, which was exhibited in Beijing more than thirty years ago. On that painting the artist also portrayed his own laughing face on the canvas.

During the years, social and cultural conventions, and even political issues have left their marks on his art, making his compositions more than self-portraits. His piece Execution was sold in London in 2007 as the most expensive work ever by a Chinese contemporary artist.

Yue is often mentioned as a very successful member of the Cynical Realism movement by the critics, albeit he rejects this label. His collaborations, including Swatch or Pont des Arts wine company are all clear signs of him becoming a representative of China’s new generation of artists.

If you are about to visit Beijing, don’t miss the 798 Art Zone! The only problem is that every time you enter that Disneyland of art, you just can’t go away without trying to see all the exhibitions, installations, shops and ateliers, coffee bars, street art and street musicians…so take your time but be careful, the place is huuuuge and somehow like a labyrinth, we almost missed our flight.

“A smile doesn’t necessarily mean happiness, it could be something else.” Yue Minjun

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Ph. cowboyzoom.com, designboom.com, mutualart.com


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