Classified in China under the genre of Political Pop, Wang Guangyi’s paintings combine the ideological power of communist propaganda with the seductive allure of advertising. Juxtaposing revolutionary images with consumer logos, Wang’s canvases provocate with their duplicitous message, highlighting the conflict between China’s political past and commercialised present. Stylistically merging the government enforced aesthetic of agitprop with the kitsch sensibility of American pop, Guangyi’s work adopts the cold-war language of the 60s to ironically examine the contemporary polemics of globalisation.
Through his critique, Guangyi’s paintings weave intricate narratives, implicating the role of the artist as an active participant (both as subjugator and subservient) in economic and social policy. Guangyi treads a very delicate line between moral dictum and capitalist endorsement; the interpretation of his paintings alternates with the subjectivity of context. Amalgamating, confusing, and blurring opposing ideological beliefs, Guangyi’s billboard sized canvases readily sell out national valour, while simultaneously devaluing status symbol luxury for the proletariat cause. (Saatchi Gallery)