Well-known by her bronze sculptures, Jiang Shuo explores a wide range of themes, from her earlier folk-like works which portray blissful childhood memories, to her now iconic “Red Guard” series composed of anonymous soldiers cast in the ancient lost wax technique. The soldiers carry items associated with the Cultural Revolution, such as a red flag or the “Little Red Book” (Quotations from Chairman Mao), thus providing a political undertone to her sculptures.
The Red Guards, while consistent with her simplistic folk art style, reflect her personal experience as a Red Guard in her youth, as well as the irony of the situation within the contemporary Chinese society, which she observes from abroad. The sculptures are featureless save for a wide-opened mouth, which is reminiscent of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution who mindlessly spouted slogans and slanders as a result of political indoctrination. Jiang Shuo notes how China has made a sharp turn to capitalism by replacing the Little Red Book with American fast food and makeup products. Her Red Guards, who had previously persecuted the bourgeois elements of society, now enjoy a lifestyle of luxury and commodities, which forms a parallel to the reality of the current Chinese society.
Born in 1958, Jiang Shuo graduated from the Central Academy of Arts and Design (now the Academy of Fine Arts, Tsinghua Unviersity), and was the first sculptress in China to complete a post-graduate degree. In 1989, she moved to Austria after awarded a scholarship by a local university and joined the Austrian Artist Association. She has exhibited extensively in Austria, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United States. Currently, she lives and works between Beijing, China, Berlin, Germany, and Klagenfurt, Austria with her husband Wu Shaoxiang, who is also an artist specialising in sculpture.