"Each work is the accumulation of your education and previous encounters with your reality. It's not just about the moment you create the work - if I gave it a title, it may cover up all that has come before it."
Fang Lijun was born in Heibei province in 1963. Raised during the years of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, these were the lasting memories of his childhood and youth. Fang studied ceramics at the Hebei Light Industry Technology School before studying woodblock printing and painting at the esteemed Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Graduating from the Academy in 1989, Fang’s career began in the 1990’s when he first exhibited outside China. His International fame was cemented in 1993 when one of his artworks was featured on the cover of the December issue of American Time magazine.
Fang is considered one of the leading advocates of the Cynical Realism movement that developed in modern Chinese art. The term was created by the art critic Li Xianting, who has been supporting Chinese avant-garde artists since the 1980’s. Cynical Realism is one of the most popular contemporary art movements in China and was created by Chinese artist breaking away from the collective mindset that has prevailed since the Cultural Revolution to pursue their own individual expression.
Fang’s artworks are hyper-realistic and criticize the cultural values of contemporary China. They represent the disenchantment of Chinese youth and symbolise the angst and rebellion of a generation. His technique reflects the technical skill and realistic style that his Social Realist training at the Academy of Fine Arts gave him, but his works also display his humour and his cynicism. Fang’s works sit in the middle of traditional and modern practices due to his use of Chinese woodblock printmaking. This involves carving the ‘negative’ image into a panel which is then coated in ink and impressed onto paper. Each colour and tone requires a different plate and a set order to print onto adjoined scrolls.
All of Fang’s works depict the plight of an individual against the masses, scrutinising the role of individual creativity within the overbearing cultural environment that exists in modern day China.
2017 Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, This All Too Human World
2016 Museum of Fine Arts Bern, Bern, Switzerland, Chinese Whispers
2014 Art & Public, Geneva, Switzerland, The new Body of Work
2013 Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong, Solo Exhibition – New Works
2012 Museum of Contemporary Art - MOCA@Loewen, Singapore, Fang Lijun: Documenta
2012 CP Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia, The Breakthrough
2009 The Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, Fang Lijun: Thread of Time
2009 Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany, Fang Lijun. Sea and Sky
2009 Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, Endlessness of life: 25 Years Retrospect of Fang Lijun
2008 Vendsyssel Kunstmuseum, Hjørring, Denmark, Fang Lijun - Gigantic Woodcuts in Colour
2008 The Faroe Islands Art Museum, Thorshavn, Faroe Islands, Fang Lijun - Gigantic woodcuts in colours
2004 Thomas Erben Gallery, New York
Selected Group Exhibition / Collection
M+ Sigg Collection Exhibition at M+, Hong Kong
23/02/2016 - 5/04/2016
Comprising more than eighty works by fifty artists – including Ai Weiwei, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Huang Yong Ping, Zhang Peili, and Zhang Xiaogang – this is the first-ever chronological exhibition about the emergence of Chinese contemporary art. It shows both the development of Chinese contemporary art and a glimpse of the collection that will be on display when the M+ building opens in 2019.
For this exhibition, M+ has selected from its M+ Sigg Collection seminal works of painting, sculpture, photography, performance documentation, video and installation to illustrate the evolution of Chinese contemporary art – from its inception at the end of the Cultural Revolution up to today’s vibrant art scene.
“This All Too Human World” at Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong
“This All Too Human World,” curated by Johnson Chang and presented at Hanart TZ Gallery, didn’t stray too far from the skeptical questioning of the type of era we are living in today, as first sparked by the movement.
Fang Lijun: Documenta Hosted by MOCA@Loewen in Singapore in association with the Linda Gallery
8/04/2012 - 30/04/2012
This exhibition showcases a systematic selection of the progressive stages in the artist’s learning experiences and creation processes, as well as a series of important information, to strongly reflect, how an individual’s life is shaped and influenced by the major transformations of the Chinese society, as well as to reflect on how the portrayed specific historical background caused an impact on artistic creations...
Through the artist’s sketches and notes, this exhibition presents how over time Mr. Fang Lijun has developed his thoughts and his extraordinary creativity. After examining “documents of his artistic creations”, we can better understand in perspective, the special significance of the society the artist was born into, and how he would cast certain moral judgments and ideals under this socio-historical background.