In a beautiful two story gallery at Dubai's business and art haven, is a showing of more than 20 original and huge paintings by a modern and globally celebrated Chinese artist. His poems and stencils tell a story intimately about his life and the experiences of his country.
Wang Guangyi was born at the very beginning of an era of political upheaval and a cultural revolution, in a time when traditions and culture was being purged and true communism was being established. From 1966 leader Mao Zedong mega revisionist ideology began to dig deep in the hearts and minds of its people using fear and propaganda to turn an enormous nation into a culturally idle state of absolute classlessness.
In these times the only way artists could be artists was to essentially work for the state. Artist Wang Guangyi is an interesting artist but also an obedient pedaler of the Maoist thinking. Painting replica upon replica of stamp like images of Chinese characters in victorious posture. Men and women, smoldering and smiling, student, soldier and leader. His art reflects Chinese victory and success. Also every painting has one word sprawled across in usually bulky white letters. The names are of the biggest brand names from the Western world.
Cartier, Swatch, Walt Disney, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Chanel, Porsche and Louis Vuitton represent a monopoly and capitalist greed.
The artist wages a war on capitalism but at the same time engages with it. All the artworks on display in the gallery speak to different audiences including both to the minds of the Mao intelligentsia and to the ordinary faces of Chinese lives that were made invisible by dictatorship and political restlessness. The paintings evoke duplicitous emotion, because they at once disguise and reveal. It is a painting disguised as a print, yet it reveals so much about the dislocation of Mao's political ambitions from the Chinese people in the time of the cultural revolution. — Iliana Foutsitzis