Urban Cries, 24 x 18 1/8 inches, 61 x 46 cm, 2006, Oil on Canvas, WND1
Urban Cries, 24 x 18 1/8 inches, 61 x 46 cm, 2006, Oil on Canvas, WND1

As with so much Chinese contemporary art, the sensuous women depicted by Wang Niandong are more than meets the eye, according to one critic. Chinese artist Wang Niandong frequently superimposes a young woman against an urban background with butterflies, gazelles or other symbolic references to nature.

Most critics think the butterflies refer to a transformative effect, suggesting that clothes—or in Wang’s case, lack of them—or cosmetics have changed a young woman into a sexual commodity. At least one of the artist’s paintings refer to Japanese art, however, and in Japanese culture butterflies also connote promiscuity, thus the artist may be lamenting a lapse in traditional sexual restraint.

According to Dr. Bobbie Allen, “Chinese art is exploding in the world market because the art world has been flooded with imitations of Western styles. Collectors hungry for the ‘contemporary’ without the ‘weird’ or abstract snatch up nostalgic landscapes or romantic portraits executed with immaculate technique and virtually no origin.

“Wang, it seems to me, has put all his women in this position. She (Wang’s archetypal woman) always seems to me to be like Chinese art itself, which can no longer look back on its past, but rather than forging a new future for itself, puts on the lurid clothes of American capitalism and sells herself like hotcakes.”

Clowns, Money, Plane and Love, 11 3/4 x 47 1/4 inches (30 x 120 cm), Oil on Canvas, , 2007
Clowns, Money, Plane and Love, 11 3/4 x 47 1/4 inches (30 x 120 cm), Oil on Canvas, , 2007

Born in 1978 in Sichuan Province, Wang attended Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing and completed his graduate work in the oil painting department of Sichuan Fine Art Institute in 2002

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