Fang Lijun, 2016, 2016, woodblock print on silk, ed of 12, 244 x 366 cm
Fang Lijun: Facial recognition

21 Feb - 18 Apr 2019 Fang Lijun

Fang Lijun: Facial recognition, the first solo exhibition by Fang Lijun in Australia.

Featured artist Fang Lijun

Vermilion Art is privileged to present Fang Lijun: Facial recognition, the first solo exhibition by Fang Lijun in Australia, a contemporary Chinese artist who enjoys almost rock-star status in China and internationally.

The set of striking mostly large woodblock prints on show was made between 2013 and 2018. The grinning and grimacing bald heads, a recurring theme in his work, point to the artist’s concerns for ordinary people struggling to keep hold of individual identity in contemporary societies, both East and West.

Fang Lijun graduated from the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. To make these works he has revived an ancient Asian method of woodblock printing, a complicated and exacting process of carving a ‘negative’ image into a panel, coating the surface in ink and color, and impressing the image onto silk. In doing so he is not only able to create large works with bold visual impact but to bring socialist visual culture into the modern era.

Fang Lijun: Facial recognition installation view, 2019

Fang Lijun: Facial recognition installation view, 2019

Fang Lijun: Facial recognition installation view, 2019

“We may be richer or poorer, eastern or western, but what we have in common overrides those things that divide us.”

Fang Lijun: Facial Recognition

John McDonald

A shaven head sends a message but it’s an ambiguous one. The shaven heads of prisoners or monks tell us they belong to an order of humanity removed from the social mainstream. The shaven head of a soldier, a footballer, or indeed a football hooligan, is a badge of aggressive intent. When a businessman shaves his head it denotes a decisive, commanding personality – or at least tries to give that impression.

In Fang Lijun’s work the shaven head is virtually a universal condition. It’s both trademark and self-portrait. But when we are confronted with an entire crowd of bald-headed figures – men, women and children – we’re obliged to see it as a way of stripping away differences, reminding us that we’re all citizens of the same planet, subject to the same overarching forces of history. We may be richer or poorer, eastern or western, but what we have in common overrides those things that divide us.

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