Visualize, Actualize, and Materialize:
21st Century Chinese Neo-Pop Art

As evidenced throughout art history, what was once deemed radical and undesirable gradually moves into the mainstream through defiant thinking. New generations of artists assimilate and appropriate ideas from previous movements, only to then rebel and push the boundaries of what is comfortable and familiar even further. Twenty-first century China is now in the throes of such a cultural revolution. We are witness to the transition from the initial group of Chinese contemporary artists and their post-Great Leap style, to the current rise of a new Chinese neo-pop visual language.

Similar to the counter-culture that spawned American pop art, Chinese social and political issues as well as their overwhelming youth population are the foundations of the 21st Century Neo-Pop movement. Much like America’s baby-boom generation that came of age in the 1960s, China’s one-child generation is breaking ground toward political and personal emancipation. During this time of unprecedented affluence, the cult of media-driven narcissism is reflected in work of this current crop of young artists. This new cultural freedom propels each artist’s creation of new images, objects and ideas.

Although pop art has been historically associated with Western culture and America in particular, the political, social and artistic magnitude of the current movement continues to challenge this young generation of Chinese artists with similar momentum to forge ahead into unexplored territory.

Pierrette Van Cleve
Curator, Van Cleve Fine Art

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