Wang Guangyi: Re-appropriate re-appropriations of re-appropriators!

The works of Chinese artist Wang Guangyi are most often described as “Political Pop Art”. A quick look at the ad-hoc gallery of his works can help to understand why: Chinese political leaders and idealized peasants and workers from the communist posters are heavily mixed in his paintings with the icons of consumerist society, the likes of CocaCola, Nokia – or Swatch, as above. This series of workes, called Great Criticism, made him the leading protagonist of the movement, and a famous figure in the West.

There was another theme in this works too, very visible but not so often articulated by the art critics: a re-appropriation of other art works, and specifically the works of other well-known ‘re-appropriators’, like Andy Warhol, for example. Some of these works are the examples of very mind-twisting simulacra: imaging the picture of Mao by Wang, made after the picture of May by Warhol, made after the someone’s poster of Mao (that was already a simulacrum in the first place).

But even knowing that side of his oeuvre, I was a bit surprised to find a few paintings by Wang Guangyi that re-cycle much older Western artworks, for example his re-enactment of the Michelangelo’s Holy Mother and Child:

Who knows, may be one day I will add his works to my growing collections of the remakes after Velázquez’s Las Meninas (190 works so far) or even of La Belle Gabrielle (150 artworks)?

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