2019.NP. No. 5By Wang Jianuo
Acrylic, Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 120cm (H) x 120cm (W) / 47.2" (H) x 47.2" (W)
Note: Actual colours may vary due to photography & computer settings.
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China’s most well-known urban artist, Wang Jianuo, makes pop-inspired artworks, (interlacing childhood cartoons, fashion labels, and seductive slogans together in mixed media graffiti inspired paintings). Using free-hand painting, graffiti, stencils, cartoon icons, collaged ads, and news print, his child-like canvases are deliberately both “happy and bright” as well as slightly ominous, hinting at darker themes bubbling just below the surface. In Wang’s world, we are experiencing a massive shift to a new pop culture, one dominated by a younger generation’s “bling-bling” brand devotion, digital device addiction, and global consumption.
Wang left China when he was 17, studied art at Wimbledon College, University of the Arts London, receiving an MFA from Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London in 2013.
Since returning to China, Wang exhibited widely, gathering a strong following among art lovers as well as more mainstream audiences. Wang’s work resonates with his Millennial Generation, who grew up binge-watching television cartoons from Japan and the USA over school holidays. Wang pays homage in his works to childhood cartoon characters such as Pikachu, Bart Simpson, Tom and Jerry, Bambi and Thumper, Donald Duck, Tin Tin, and Japan’s Sakuragi Hanamichi. Growing up with these Peter Pan – like characters, who never grow old, Wang and his friends cherish their memory (and collect their likenesses well into adulthood), as sweet reminders of bygone childhood days.
Having grown up with the internet，Wang’s seductive brand of childlike “Urban Pop” is filled with consumer appropriation, clearly influenced by Gen Z’s information superhighway of e-commerce, tech companies, bitcoin bosses, digital entertainment, and other on-line global connected experiences. By tagging fashionable streetwear logos in his artwork Wang points not only to an aesthetic of “Street” influences, but more aptly, to all that is shared digitally in online consumption habits.
In his latest work, Wang sets out to find a more personal voice, amidst a barrage of pop culture imagery, juxtaposing for example his broken heart emoji tags on to otherwise “cheerful” scenes.
- Beijing, 2019
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Based in: Beijing
Wang Jianuo, born in Liaoning in 1989 and works in Beijing, is China’s most well-known urban artist. Wang’s pop-inspired artworks, (interlacing childhood cartoons, fashion labels, and seductive slogans together in mixed media graffiti inspired paintings), achieved wide-spread recognition from Boomers to Gen Z collectors new to the art world, but …
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