“This art is all about people: their lives, their ideals, their entanglements, their gatherings, their loneliness.”
Born Zhengzhou City, Henan, 1971
If viewers’ first reaction to his whimsical sculptures and paintings is to laugh, Cao Yingbin is fine with that. “I laugh myself when I’m making them,” he says. “Reality is absurd. For me things start getting real only when I start drawing and forget who I am.” His People’s Park (2009) presents three surgical trays on which are neatly arrayed tiny human organs and heads of Mickey Mouse, Astro Boy and the Monkey King. The title pokes fun at the Chinese Communists’ habit of attaching the word “people’s” to everything, from the republic to banks and newspapers. Buy and Sell (2008) assigns prices in US dollars or renminbi (the people’s currency) to similarly dismembered items: $370,000 for Donald Duck’s head; RMB960,000 for a human heart, and RMB39,300 for a pair of eyeballs. “In China these days, we are only small figures without the right to speak out,” the artist comments. His surreal collages underscore the topsy-turvy nature of values throughout the modern world.