Fang Lijun in New York

Posted in Arario New York, Fang Lijun by arariogallery on December 4, 2008

Arario Gallery New York is currently showing the work of one of China’s best-known artists, Fang Lijun, the recognized leader of the Cynical Realism Movement.

From this exhibition, which took us one week to install, I’d like to highlight one work: the sculptural installation 2007.9.11 that is displayed in the first gallery of our multi-room space. The sculpture includes 24 bald, portly figures. Each figure is about half the height of the average human. They are separated into two groups and enclosed in two large iron cages. These little figures left Beijing via ocean a month before finally arriving New York. They were packed separately in 12 crates (one pair in each crate); when we opened each crate we laughed about how they looked like little identical twins babies.



The amount of work that goes into crating and unpacking is enormous. After two whole days of receiving and opening all the crates, removing them from the bubble wrap, and labeling each figure, we placed each inside one of the two cages. This is what they look like now: 


If you look closely, you’ll see that thye are not identical and each figure has a different facial expression and gesture, and holds a unique weapon. They appear to revolt. As Karen Smith writes in the exhibition catalog,“…the details brought to the execution of the individual figures is staggering – the soft pudgy flesh, finely rouged features and perfectly manicured nails […] is probably why the works are so disquieting. More so, because one senses that the figures are oblivious to the cage that surrounds them […] this might hint at the over-arching social paradigm of Fang Lijun’s native cultural framework, all contemporary societies are in the grip of some frenetic ambition or another.”

Fang Lijun: 2008.11.06 will be on view until January 17, 2009. The artist keeps his own blog in Chinese, which includes some great black-and-white photos.

Written by Arario New York’s, Lesley Sheng.

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