Lives and works in Beijing, China
Fang Lijun is one of the leading and most influential contemporary artists in China. He was one of the main forerunners of the early 1990’s movement known as Cynical Realism an artistic trend that evolved as a result of the aftermath of the 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and the closure by the authorities of the “China Avant-Garde” exhibition at the China National Gallery in Beijing.
The occurrence of these events, which symbolise the climax of artistic aspirations that built up in China during the 1980’s, created a void that Fang Lijun and others filled with a new message full of irony and indifference to the big forces that the individual is subject to. The idealism of the 1980’s gave way to a more somber and realistic understanding of the role of avant-garde art under a one party regime. The events which gave birth to Cynical Realism led Fang Lijun and others to redefine the position of contemporary Chinese art throughout the 1990’s. Fang Lijun was one of the first artists to translate this onto canvas. His repeated use of the image of a bald man with his ambiguous expression and dreamlike background of unlimited space and freedom became a symbol of the subtle mockery that can be detected in the works of the Cynical Realist artists.
Fang Lijun’s works cannot be reduced to simple matters, be they political or social. On the contrary,his multilayered paintings, wood-cuts and sculptures seem to consistently defy any clear statement or interpretation.