“What interests me most is the surface of our daily lives; it’s like the greasy scum that floats on water.”
Born Putian, Fujian, 1978
Society, in Wu Junyong’s view, is “a fable or a riddle made up by individuals in large numbers”. It is this confused and often crazy tale that he depicts in allegorical paintings and animations. His particular focus is “the intersection of politics and the human body”, he says. The Chinese society he presents is a surreal hell whose inhabitants obsessively repeat strange exercises and pointless rituals. Many wear conical hats, which the artist calls “a symbol of cultural and political power”. In the animation Opera (2007), naked politician-actors jerk their way like pink puppets through absurd and vulgar routines for which the sole audience seems to be themselves. In Cloud’s Nightmare (2010), the viewer watches as if through binoculars as silhouetted humans and animals go through their baffling motions in the teeth of an evil wind. Wu Junyong’s 2008 series of oil paintings reflects on the failures of Communism, with a party official tooting a tiny trumpet as he is buried beneath the marketplace pavement, and a despondent Karl Marx whose empty cranium holds a hammer, a sickle, and a Little Red Book.