Fang Lijun was born on 1963 Born in Handan, Hebei province, PR China. The bald headed youth which first appeared in the artist's paintings in the early 1990s has become Fang Lijun's characteristic figure and has been widely interpreted as the symbol of disillusion, mockery and rebellion in present Chinese society. Later series include the water series, dreamlike works of swimmers, and gigantic, multi-panel, woodblock prints.
Fang Lijun (1963) is an influential figure in the post-1989 movement Cynical Realism and among Chinese contemporary artists. He quickly gained renown for his portrayals of simple peasants with shaved heads against alienated backgrounds. Although the figures could be seen as autobiographical for Fang Lijun himself, they are more a description of a generation which lives between traditional forces and a new and sometimes rootless Chinese society.
He is one of the leading proponents of the early 1990s Cynical Realist movement andhis work encapsulates the disillusionment of China's youth; a generation defined by the events at Tiananmen Square and China's internal domestic policies. Constructed around loose narratives Fang's images personalise sentiments of disenchantment, angst, and rebellion; his fictional suggestions conveyed through his illustrative style and re-occurring bald-headed protagonist.
Fang's practice exhibits a rarefied technical skill rigorously studied through his Social Realist training; his combination of this aesthetic with references to contemporary comics, folk art, and dynastic painting characterise a national identity in flux, distilling a position of integrity from tradition and the modern world.
Fang's monumental sized prints revive the ancient Asian practice of woodblock printing -- a complicated and exacting process of carving a ‘negative' image into a panel, coating the surface in ink, and impressing the image onto paper; each different colour and tone requires a separate plate and order of printing. Due to their immense scale, Fang's images are composed on several adjoined scrolls; the elongated strips create both an emotive fragmenting of the image, and create a reference to memory and historical testimony. Thematically, each of these prints describe the plight of the individual against the ‘mass', creating a spiritual contemplation of solitude the quest for personal probity in the face of adversity.
Fang's painting 30th Mary evokes these same sentiments with a humorous effect. Reminiscent of European church ceiling paintings, Fang portrays an order of ascendancy of same-same kewpie figures, each based on his own image. Executed with painstaking hyper-realism, the clouds formulate as a tempestuous funnel rather than a portal of billowing promise. Contrasted with the kitsch palette and pop rendering of the grotesque cherubs, Fang's painting approaches the sanctity of ideological assurance with an empathetic cynicism.
2006: Kupferstichkabinett Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany 2005: National Galerie / China Art Museum,Beijing, China Art Cologne, Germany 2004: Fang Lijun, Leben Ist Jetzt, Alexander Ochs Galleries Berlin,Beijing,Berlin,Germany 2002: Fang Lijun, Between Beijing & Dali,Woodcuts & Paintings 1989 - 2002,Ludwig Forum for InternationaleKunst Aachen 2001: Fang lijun, Asian Fine Art, Berlin, Prüss + Ochs Gallery Germany 1998: Fang Lijun, Max Protetch Gallery, New York - From Beijing to Amsterdam and Back,Stedelijk Museum/Galerie Serieuse Zaken,Amsterdam 1996: Fang Lijun: Human Images in an Uncertain Age, The Japan Foundation Asia Center, Tokyo - Fang Lijun, Galerie Bellefroid, Paris Fang Lijun, Galerie Serieuse Zaken, Amsterdam.
Conclusions: Fang Lijun is the leading protagonist of Cynical Realism, the major movement of the post-1989 era in contemporary Chinese art. Fang Lijun exhibited his works at the China National Gallery which was the culmination of that decade and signaled to the artists that they had been recognized at Chinese art circles.