Yue Minjun

October 20 - December 09, 2012

“A smile doesn’t necessarily mean happiness; it could be something else.” Yue Minjun once said this in an interview with The New York Times. Jaw-breaking smiles with pearl white teeth are laughing from his iconic paintings. As part of our idol worshipping culture, Yue presents himself as Marilyn Monroe, as an astronaut, as a princess and as Noah in Noah’s ark. This fall Yue Minjun’s poker face visits galleri s.e. We are both proud and humble to present one of the world’s leading contemporary artists.


Yue Minjun at Fondation Cartier pour l´art contemporain: http://fondation.cartier.com/#/en/home/





Yue’s motives have turned into cultural icons from today’s China. Painting with an easily recognisable signature and a quick stylistic development, Yue responds to contemporary culture. Yue Minjun was educated at the department for oil painting at Hebei Normal University. Oil on canvas is still one of his preferred expressions, though he also works in other media. Yue is often coined as one of the cynical realists in Chinese art. This is, however, a label he himself rejects.
In the exhibition at galleri s.e we will both meet Yue’s characteristic smiles as well as new works where Yue flirts with traditional Chinese art and with art history. An interesting new collage, which criticises our consumerist culture, will also be part of the exhibition.

The Chinese art market of today is the world’s biggest after passing the American art market in 2010. The last 15 years have been adventurous for the Chinese art world. Auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have experienced impressive results. Yue’s painting “Execution” (1995) made a historic record for Chinese art back in 2007, when sold at Sotheby’s for 5,9 million USD.

Yue Minjun grew up between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and today’s consumerist reality. His artistic expression could be described as inspired by political posters from the Mao era just as much as they are inspired by today’s billboards. This duality captures Yue’s idiosyncratic power. In a pleasing and quite humoristic way his pop art aesthetics captures the spirit of our time. The manic smiles makes the beholder smile too, the colors are vibrant and stimulating, the motives often comic. Then, suddenly, we are left with a sense of uncertainty. Do we see a smile, or is it more of a cry? And why do his subjects close their eyes? Are we ourselves closing our eyes in confrontation with the less pleasant? There is no doubt that cultural and societal values are being questioned. Thus, Yue Minjun’s laughs leave us with a sound sense of discomfort.

Recent exhibitions with Yue Minjun

  • AroS Aarhus Kunstmuseum 2011
  • Shanghai Gallery of Art 2010
  • Today Art Museum Beijing 2009
  • Queens Museum of Art New York 2007
  • Fondation Cartier Paris opens a large scale exhibition with Yue Minjun November 2012


Visit the artists main page for more images and information: Yue Minjun