339
339
Yue Minjun
UNTITLED (FROM THE HATS SERIES)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
339
Yue Minjun
UNTITLED (FROM THE HATS SERIES)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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Londres

Yue Minjun
B. 1962
UNTITLED (FROM THE HATS SERIES)
signed and dated 2005; signed and dated 2005 on the reverse
oil on canvas
79.8 by 80.2cm.; 31 3/8 by 31 5/8 in.
Lire le rapport d'état Lire le rapport d'état

Provenance

Private Collection, Geneva
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Exposition

Shenzhen, He Xiangning Art Museum, Reproduction Icons: Yue Minjun Works 2004-2006, 2006, p. 87, illustrated in colour

Description

Untitled (from The Hat Series) is a remarkable example from Yue Minjun’s collection of paintings featuring a representation of his iconic ‘laughing man’ adorned with  varying hats from all warps of life. With his high-peaked chef’s hat, toothy wide smile and tightly shut eyes frozen in hysteria, Yue Minjun’s subject is imbued with highly symbolic associations. The artist describes his creation as “both a self-portrait and an alter-ego” (Enid Tsui, ‘Yue Minjun: Behind the Painted Smile,’ Financial Times, November 2 2012, n.p.). Born in North-Eastern China in 1962, Yue’s childhood and teenage years coincided with Chairman Mao’s rule and the artist’s constant re-iteration of the ‘laughing man’ motif can arguably be seen as a response to state dominance and the expressive and individualistic vacuum that it created amongst the Chinese people.

The artist recalled the inspiration for his ‘Hat Series’ in an interview in 2008, “My interest in the hat was piqued at the time of the Olympic Games in Athens, when various hats were used to denote the ranking of the medal winners... It made me think about the origin of hats, and how the symbolism of ‘the hat’ evolved. Why was it that this particular accessory became the sign of a job, a social position? Or stranger still, how a hat could signify nationality, or an ethnic group… No one chooses a hat lightly: it has to be right. Unless it goes with the job – then you have no choice. So the placing of various hats on the figures in this series of paintings is about highlighting the role of the hat in asserting and reinforcing social differentials, and my sense of the absurdity of the ideas that govern the socio-political protocol surrounding hats” (the artist, cited in an interview with Karen Smith in Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Volume 7, Issues 1-4, 2008, p. 32). Although at first amusing and curious, with its brightly painted figure and heavenly backdrop is weighed down with oppressive undertones; the hat becomes a forced identity, a label under which one must assume a role in society and act accordingly. The lack of individualism in Yue Minjun’s laughing characters ensures they remain hauntingly ambiguous, unrecognisable as individuals. It is a telling and enduring motif that acts as a stark visual reminder of the oppression that remains in the modern world. 

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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Londres