Pop art is a movement that began in the mid 20th century. Often based around popular culture and mass media the movement sought to clarify the idea that art can be drawn from any source. International artists who define the movement include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and from the UK David Hockney.
In the 1980s during a time of rapid change in China, both socially and politically, a new art movement emerged to challenge these changes. This movement was called political pop.
We profile 3 of the most notable Chinese pop artists today.
Jacky Tsai was born in Shanghai. His approach combines traditional Chinese technique and imagery with western pop art that aims to create a balance between cultural extremes.
Chinese landscapes and cultural symbols are juxtaposed with superheroes, pole dancers and other western icons.
Tsai Is possibly best known for the floral skull that has been incorporated into many of his artworks. It was in 2008 that he created a floral skull for British fashion designer Alexander McQueen whilst still studying ant Central St Martins, London. The floral skulls for Tsai depict beauty in decay rather than fear and superstition.
When asked about the significance of the skull in an interview with Hunger TV Tsai replied “I grow up in a very traditional Chinese family, and in our cultural things related to death are seen as ‘unlucky’, and luck is a very important key to happiness traditionally speaking. So, from a young age, skulls were presented as a very scary image to me. I try to make them beautiful and elegant, this process for me is also reborn after dead and beauty within decay, but all I did, in the beginning, was just to overcome my fear.”
Tsai is represented in several galleries worldwide and his work has been exhibited internationally.
Wang Guyangi was born in Harbin China in 1957. Whilst not strictly a pop artist he was part of the Polotical Pop movement that started in 1989. His work juxtaposes consumer logos with Chinese revolutionary imagery, highlighting the difficulties between the political past and the commercialism of the present.
Wang Guangyi lives and works in Beijing, China and exhibited widely both in group and shows.
When asked by Glass Magazine to explain how he began his artistic career he replied, “When I was a kid, I had always enjoyed drawing. The idea of becoming an artist wasn’t that clear at the very beginning. What led me to embark on the journey of becoming an artist was actually my mother. I was very fond of the window paper cuts she made. You could say this was the very first moment that sparked my interest in art. After being admitted to the art school, I began to view art as a professional career.”
Zhao Bo was born in Sichuan, China in 1974.
He belongs to a group of artists known as the “New Realists”, his bright and punchy colours, mixed with communist or military imagery combine to create stark and bright images.
Zhao Bo has exhibited widely and his work has come to auction several times.