Chinese artist Yue Minjun (1962) was born in Heilongjiang, China and graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Hebei Normal University in his home country. He currently resides and works in Beijing.
One of the most successful living artists of China. His works have traveled all over the globe and his grinning man (portrayed engaging in a plethora of activities) is amongst collectors’ favorites. Best known for his immediately amusing and sympathetic work depicting himself in various settings, frozen in laughter, he has also reproduced this signature image in sculpture, watercolor and prints.
As original as his mocking self-portraits may be, Yue's artworks show a distinct penchant for art historical appropriation. Whether it’s Eugene Delacroix or Francis Bacon that Yue chooses to emulate in a specific canvas, he does the artwork with a conflicting blend of respect and mockery that is typical of the Cynical Realism movement. The artist's attitude toward the masterpieces from which he borrows remains as ambiguous as his attitude towards the broken culture that surrounds him. At once clinging to and scorning it, Yue maintains a signature poker face throughout his entire oil paintings.
A figure of Cynical Realism, his artworks engage viewers with a gray humor that emphasizes the canvas' boundaries and the artist’s ability for individualistic self-expression in oil painting. He uses both the overstated poignancy of cartooning and the technical rendering of graphic illustration.