PAE: $2,321,640-$3,095,520
Fang Lijun, 1996.4
Fang Lijun, 1996.4, signed in Chinese and titled in English; signed in Chinese, titled in English and dated 1996 on the reverse, framed, oil on canvas, 180.5 by 230 cm.; 71 by 90½ in. © Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others.

Fang Lijun (b. 1963) is a painter based in Beijing. He is a member of the 1990s art movement known as Cynical Realism. Artists involved with this movement, including Liu Wei and Yue Minjun, sought to break away from the collective mindset that existed since China's Cultural Revolution, employing humor and irony through art to spotlight socio-political issues, and loss of individuality. Classically trained at and graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Art in 1988, Fang Lijun received initial attention for his depictions of bald-headed figures at the "China's New Art Post-1989" exhibition. Thereafter, all of his figures would have their heads shaved. His bald-headed figures reflect a very heavy concern for artists in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He states: "For me, the importance of baldness lies in its cancelation of individual identity. It more strongly expresses a general concept of humanity." Between 1990 and 1991 he created his "Series 1" paintings, a group of seven, monochromatic images of bald headed figures of exaggerated and dumb-faced expression. The individuals depicted in these images carry a sense of acting out, like adolescents confronting a camera. Beginning with "Series 2" in 1992, Fang Lijun located his bald subjects in a surreal abyss of blue skies and vast seas. His subjects wander aimlessly often pulled by uncontrollable forces (see "30th Mary", 2006). They are always in a group and there is no sense of individuality. From 1993 onwards as consumer culture grew in China, Fang's palette brightened, and the people he depicted are uniformly portrayed in brighter clothing. His figures, trapped in their forced smiles, floating, are without a doubt similar in color and tone to the propaganda images of Socialist Realism. There is a sad sense of the artist not being able to present anything other than a mockery of the once official style of Communism that usurped individuality. China's collectivist past haunts Fang Lijun's images and it is difficult to tell whether or not the artist himself has escaped collectivity.