The Bareheaded Hooligans

Chinese Artists

The Leading Artist Of China’s Post 89 Avant-Garde Art Movement Who Paints China’s Democratic Ethos – Fang Lijun

Look at these bareheaded hooligans with different nuances and appearances. Sometimes they are laughing, dazing, or yawning. Other times they are just a bunch of bald heads viewed from behind. They are created by Chinese contemporary artist Fang Lijun.

These bareheaded hooligans date back to 1989 when the artist just graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts. “I was like a drunken man. I threw myself against the wall, and the only thought left in my head was to get over it. But once I get it over, where else should I go?” Fang asks.

As a leading character of China’s post 89 avant garde art movement, Fang Lijun adopted a unique artistic context and created Cynical Realism together with the artists of his generation. The image of his bareheaded hooligans has become a classic symbol, under which lies the boredom and the rogue humor that is prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s.

Unfortunately, there was only one voice in the Chinese art scene, leaving all the other voices rather little space to survive. But Fang managed to find a sense of propriety in his art. He described it as “a possibility to make a voice that is not to be wiped out immediately.”

It was not until 2003 that Fang started to feel more comfortable and finally could follow his inclinations.

It is believed that behind Fang’s bareheaded hooligans is China’s democratic ethos. Fang, of course, as a witness of the cultural movement, has experienced the reversal of values and its tragic ending. It influenced Fang Lijun and his art profoundly.

On creating the first few bareheaded hooligans, he said, “We’d rather be called the lost, the bored, the punk, or the dangerous. We will no more be deceived. From now on, anything dogmatic will be labeled with a hundred question marks, being denied, and thrown to the rubbish bin.”

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