Yue Minjun is a contemporary Chinese artist known for his inventive take on self-portraiture. Grouped into the Cynical Realism movement in China, alongside artists Fang Lijun and Liu Wei, he refutes this labelling of his work. Yue’s brightly colored depictions of maniacally laughing figures are influenced both by Pop Art and Surrealism. His works act as a tacit form of social and political critique which deals with both Chinese history and the Western canon of art. “I’m actually trying to make sense of the world,” he said of his work.
“There’s nothing cynical or absurd in what I do.” Born in 1962 in Daqing City, China, Yue studied at Hebei Normal University in the 1980s, training as a painter, sculptor, and printmaker. Bearing witness to the restrictive regime which led to the Tiananmen Square massacre of protestors, Yue began using his art to understand the societal changes taking place in China over the following decades. In 2008, the artist collaborated with KAWS to produce a number of figurines which blend their two distinctive styles.
He currently lives and works in Beijing, China. The artist’s works are held in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, the Shenzhen Art Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.