If you can understand what Mona Lisa is smiling about, then I will know what you are thinking.
Written by: Sun Zhe, Chief Reporter of Fashion Magazine in Shanghai, Fashion Critic
Unexceptionally, they have perfect complexions. No matter if she is Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Zhang, the popular manmade Korean beauty, or the unknown new advertising actress, no matter what they are selling, VISA card, essence cream or shampoo, the image focus will be their seemingly perfect faces. It reminds us of beautiful words, for example, the freshest fruits, the tenderest rose and the most innocent angel. Only people in the fashion industry know the backstage stories of such angelic creations, when creative and mutually discriminating fashion workers finally cooperate with each other. The idea director of the commodity leads the expensive hairdresser, wardrobe expert, stylist, star or model, charging on an hourly basis. All of them are paid to shoot a completely unreal face in a studio as luminous as polar day. They are dream creators and they love it. When a worker modifies pictures of famous women into perfection with an Apple computer, concealing the blemishes on our bodies left by God, they are proud of it. They care nothing of the real faces of those models. As cocoa powder and sugar are only disorderly materials for a skilled baker, and his focus is to bake them into a decorative cake.
Actually, it is a process of visualizing “beauty”. Under the requirement and direction of powerful product manufacturers, fashion workers try to define standards of “beauty” for the public. This motivation is relevant to art creation, but more important, it is designed to meet the demands of a huge and globalized market.
Does “beauty” need its standards? If there was only one standard of “beauty” left, how would we face it? Would you take the risks of being regarded as “out-of-date”, having “no taste” or being “ugly and disgusting”? Would you fight against such standards of “beauty”?
The whole process of modern industrialization tries to simplify and standardize all of our opinions about every step we make, whether it is in fashion, home decoration or the food in our refrigerators. For modern people with a sense of responsibility, any idea beyond those provided by manufacturers can be immoral. Stereotypes are the fruits of modern industry, as well as the key to lowering production costs. If women all around the world have the same idea of “beauty”, “beauty” products are more easily sold around the world. They have been doing this for years and have achieved decisive success.
In his “Standards” series of POP style, Yang Mian expresses his opinion about increasingly simple and repeated standards of “beauty”. His opinion may express his worry, his sense-of-humor or irony, but I don’t see it as anger. Even though there is an electric wave-like line in each painting, I don’t think it represents strong provocation. For either an artist or a common person, it is difficult to fight against the order of our existing lives on a grand scale. Though it is a hegemonic and single “standard”, it has its necessity and value of existence.
Appearing in these advertisements with similar background and methods, any real and vivid person would become strange. She becomes a pure symbol, with ambiguous status. Like the woman in the famous painting Mona Lisa; we know that she is a leisurely and rich woman, but nobody can define the emotion in her expression. Similarly, we don’t know the real thoughts of famous women in advertisements. There is nothing more idealized than this. In particular, in the make-up advertisement of AUPRUS, Zhao Wei gazes at the audience with a distracted expression. We are unable to discover if she is happy and satisfied with her life. It seems that the products she is representing devoured her. Product manufacturers are trying to create a simple and understandable advertising style, and these famous women are only tools. However, it seems that they cannot even persuade themselves. I don’t know how many people these soulless and beautiful dolls enchant. It might be far away from the original intention of those manufactured. But sometimes it is true.