Wang Guangyi's aesthetic entails sampling a variety of imagery - such as well-known propaganda images and photographs - and fusing them with corporate brand names in order to undermine their original purpose. In combining ideology and advertisement, he criticizes the apparent' truths' of both. In short, he brands Socialist Realist iconography and symbols with a different contradictory discursive system. The paintings are meant to highlight the fact that despite no overt relationship, the principal goal of both is to convince the population of the authenticity and singularity of its products. The artistic strategy produces imagery on different levels, both symbolic and real, visualizing and actively counteracting key economic paradigms and their social and cultural implications.
Wang Guangyi employs a variety of media including installation art, mixed media imagery and sculpture, but it was his series of oil paintings entitled "Great Criticism" that earned him fame. On a surface level, these pictures resemble the technique and aesthetics of Warhol's pop icons, but their inherent contents are extremely sophisticated fusions of different belief systems, namely socialism and consumerism. Fusing the two opposing phenomena negates both. Wang Guangyi combines disparate and seemingly disconnected images, attempting to show how inexorably entwined they become when interpreted through a consensual frame that, then, domesticates and homogenizes them. From this perspective, the works embody themes of equation and acquisition, a transecting of capital and empire in the commodity.
Wang Guangyi was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang province in 1956. He graduated from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, Oil Painting Department in 1984. He resides and works in Beijing. recent exhibition include: M+ Sigg Collection: From Revolution to Globalisation, M+ Museum, Hong Kong (2021); Contemporary Chaos, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium,Vestfossen, Norway (2018); Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, U.S.A. (2017); Thing-in-itself: Utopia, Pop and Personal Theology – Wang Guangyi Retrospective Exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2012); Wang Guangyi. The Interactive Mirror Image, Tank Loft. Chongqing Contemporary Art Center, Chongqing (2011); Visual Politics, Solo Exhibition of Wang Guangyi, He Xiangning Art Museum, Guangdong(2008); Cold War Aesthetics , Wang Guangyi, Institute of Louisse Blouin Foundation, London, U.K.(2008). Selected exhibitions include The Seventh Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, OCAT, Shen Zhen(2012); The Constructed Dimension, 2010 Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition, National Art Musume of China, Beijing(2010); Reshaping History: Chinart from 2000-2009, China National Convention Center, Beijing(2010); Cold War Aesthetics , Wang Guangyi, Institute of Louisse Blouin Foundation, London, U.K.(2008); 85 New Wave - The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing(2007); Plato and His Seven Spirits, Century OCT (Beijing, 2006), Mahjong, Kunstmuseum Bern (2005), Chine, le corps partout? Museum of Contemporary Art (Marseilles, 2004), Alors, la Chine?, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France(2003), The First Triennial of Chinese Arts, Guangzhou Art Museum, Guangdong(2002) and 45th Venice Biennale, Italy(1993).