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M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong. By donation, © Wang Xingwei
New Beijing 新北京
In this oil painting, the driver of a tricycle cart transports a pair of bleeding penguins lying next to each other while two men run frantically alongside. The background depicts two onlookers and another driver against a brick wall. The painting appropriates photojournalist Liu Heung Shing’s photograph of two students with gunshot wounds from the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 being taken to hospital. Wang’s replacement of the injured students with penguins—non-native creatures of little significance in Chinese culture—gives this photorealistic painting an element of absurdity. Painted shortly after Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, the work alludes to the Chinese government’s attempts to portray a new image of Beijing by covering up controversial historical events. The work’s title refers to the slogan of the 2008 games: ‘New Beijing, new Olympics’. Since the beginning of his career in the early 1990s, Wang has been incorporating a range of styles and techniques in his paintings. The work demonstrates his characteristic juxtaposition of disjointed visual elements, drawn from sources as diverse as art history, cartoons, and his personal life.
About Wang Xingwei
Wang Xingwei (born 1969, Shenyang) graduated from the Fine Art Department of Shenyang Normal University in 1990. In the early 1990s, he pioneered a painting style linking visual references from Chinese and Western visual art and historical practices, producing works that draw on theatricality and kitsch performativity. Wang lives and works in Beijing.