Yue Minjun on Display at the Cartier Foundation

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A cynical, worrisome, almost scathing laugh that, revealing all his teeth, seems to twist into a sort of bitterness that the eye cannot detect. This is the cry of the Chinese artist Yue Minjun, currently on display at the Cartier foundation.

It’s a toothy “orange smile”, practically identical and present in all of his creations: Yue likes to play with the idea of the “new China”, powerful and hypocritical, that came out of international solitude at the end of the 80s. His work is all about uniformity, a bit like the mentality of the Chinese communists that the painter so tirelessly revolted against. A languishing laugh, almost Machiavellian: a brief victory. Laughing to distance himself from a harsh reality.

But Yue considers his art to be first and foremost for himself: he masterfully employs pop art colors, bright and distilled through a series of shadows and light that proves his perfect mastery of his brush; a unique figure that multiplies itself to infinity. For him, his art can only be described as being a simple social critique all while being the very same transcendence of the pain that he is ridiculing, without even meaning to. Yes, this idea was born while he was wearing nothing but his underwear. Yue also plays around with his brother’s camera lens, laughing, flouncing around, grimacing, just like a little kid. These kinds of painters, with their “direct and simple style”, are able to amuse us, nothing more.

First presented to the artistic circle of Venice’s Biennale in 1999, then to the larger public after his piece Execution was sold for 6 million dollars in 2007, this pop art-style painter is finally seeing his work honored by the Cartier foundation. A dramatic laugh, spread out over fifty different paintings and a hundred pencil sketches, on display for all of France until March 17, 2013.

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