Despite the presence of an avant-garde since the 1980s, figurative art remains important in China. This is not to say that Chinese culture rejects abstraction; instead, its preference for realist art is based on centuries of traditional painting focused on the landscape, which many scholars regard as its highest achievement. Artists such as Xu Bing, Gu Wenda, and Cai Guo-Qiang who have made their way to the West clearly don’t fit into the figurative paradigm; they are essentially installation and land artists with a marked conceptual bent, whose fame and success seem linked to a particular generation, one that came of age in 1980s Beijing. Many of today’s younger artists, on the other hand, have returned to the figure, and the Beijing sculptor Li Wei is indicative of her generation.
Gossip, 2009. Painted fiberglass, 56 x 46 x 83 cm.