Fang Lijun - Living Multitudes Art Exhibition
At Christie's recent Asian 20th-century and contemporary art evening sale, mainland artist Fang Lijun's paintings did very well, with his 2002.6.1 fetching more than HK$5 million. The piece is a colourful image typical of the collectable Chinese artist, featuring slightly distorted bare-headed figures against the backdrop of a sky adorned with flowers.
As the title suggests, the painting is a decade old; the other two oils that were sold for millions in the same auction season were created even earlier in the 1990s.
Then Fang was in his early 30s, not long after finishing his studies in 1989 at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts, around the same time as the bloody crackdown on the student democratic movement at Tiananmen Square. Now aged 48, he is a father of two, and owner of six (or seven - he seems unsure) upscale restaurants. And his art?
While Fang has been using the skinhead look from the very outset of his career, his latest solo exhibition at Times Square in Causeway Bay - which charts the artist's career since 1998 - reveals that he has departed from the motif frequently.
Among the exhibits in 'Living Multitudes' - chosen by Joshua Kim, director of Pin Gallery in Beijing, and Johnson Chang Tsong-zung, director of Hanart TZ Gallery - are paintings showing his signature bald figures floating on an expanse of blue sea or sky. But there are also two new oil works, each depicting a luscious woman immersing herself in a pool of golden jewellery, with an expression of pleasure on her face - something not seen in Fang's oeuvre before.
It's a sardonic take on today's increasingly commercial China, says the Handan-born artist. 'Money wasn't so important when I was young. Not many people mentioned it,' Fang recalls. 'But nowadays, almost everyone talks about money and wealth at different levels.
'I think artists shouldn't avoid such a commonplace topic but present that thought of the people - the importance of money - and materialise it into art.'
2/F Atrium, Times Square, Causeway Bay. Ends July 2