Wang Jinsong


Born in 1963, Wang Jinsong studied ink painting at the Hangzhou Academy of Fine Art, and was internationally recognized in the 1980s as a member of the Cynical Realists for his satirical expressionism. Though he began his career as a painter, by the early 90s he was exploring installation, performances, and photography that dealt with social phenomena and urban change.
His first photo series, Standard Family (1996), alluded to the one-child policy in China. The series consisted of 200 images of single-child families: mother and father flanking their child. In 1998 he did a related series called Parents, which also observes—in the individual surroundings, ornaments, and art on the walls--the process of westernization. He claims his work is not critical: the surface details speak for themselves. In 1999, One Hundred Signs of Demolition commented on the facts of urban change: a grid of 100 close-up shots of the ideogram for “demolition” on different walls—placed there by officials—as a signal that those buildings would soon be torn down by the city to make room for skyscrapers.
Midnight News (2007) is a more recent series of thirty photographs, taken one per minute during a broadcast of the midnight news on June 20, 2007 on CCTV, China Central Television, the major broadcast network in mainland China.  The format of these photographs has the severe, almost minimalistic, repetitive logic for which Wang Jinsong has become known. Placed on a pedestal in a dark alley, the small glowing TV screen at the center of each photograph is an icon as lonely as an only child. It seems to communicate not the breaking news but a sense that the state-sponsored news lacks any relevance to daily life. The images on the screens at the center of each of the 30 photos may be different, but they subtly deconstruct the illusion that state sponsored television can deliver unbiased news.
 The artist inverts the implications: the television set with its different mute images, is the subject of his work, not an object that conveys global news. And, it seems, no one is watching. The scene is as iconic, as eternal, and as symbolic as an old pagoda.  

In his striking explorations into photography, Wang examines the fundamental issues of contemporary Chinese society—the one child policy, the destiny of the aged, the wholesale demolition of old buildings and the vexed cultural relationship of modern China with her glorious past. His current interest in traditional ink painting is surprising after his emphatically avant-garde work of previous years. But these beautiful and spontaneous paintings, free of any social content, reveal the breadth of his cultural interests, the connection he feels with the rich legacy of China's past.[1]
His first photo series, Standard Family (1996), alluded to the one-child policy in China. The series consisted of 200 images of single-child families: mother and father flanking their child. In 1998 he did a related series called Parents, which also observes—in the individual surroundings, ornaments, and art on the walls--the process of westernization. He claims his work is not critical: the surface details speak for themselves. In 1999, One Hundred Signs of Demolition.


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