Mo Yi is a highly respected and recognized photographic artist, whose works reflect his radical views. As early as the 1980s, he started doing street performances in Tianjin where he used to live. Mo Yi’s artworks have a “pop” look and are aesthetically pleasing, yet the stories behind are much deeper, more complicated and thought-provoking.
In his extremely well-known installation works of ceramic tile, Mo Yi digs out materials left behind from the Cultural Revolution. The background images of the works are pixilated – they are merely coloured tiles when viewed close to the works. However, when you take a step back, even those who are not familiar with Chinese political history will be able to recognize immediately the images of propaganda or photographs of significant events from the Cultural Revolution period. All the coloured squares are made with specially ordered ceramic tiles, imitating the once most commonly used material for political propaganda posters in rural China. On the tiles are small words from different extracts and quotes complementing each image, such as Mao’s famous sayings and the artist’s different versions of this sentence, or congratulatory messages to Mao and the Party that all students had to chant mandatorily. In between the tiles are red threads that creep out, a bit like grass growing in between floor tiles but stained in blood red, symbolizing the vitality of lives that try to survive in hard situations.
Mo Yi was born in Tibet in 1958. In 1998, he was featured in a documentary series produced by Japan’s NHK Broadcasting Corporation as one of the most important Chinese contemporary artists amongst Fang Lijun, Liu Wei and Zhang Yang (movie director). His works had been included in important exhibitions such as the Guangzhou International Photography Biennial, the Guangzhou Contemporary Art Triennial and the Daegu Photo Biennale, and in the collections of the Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China; the Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing, China; Houston Museum, USA; and the Chinese Image and Video Archive, Canada. He received the Gold Prize at the Pingyao International Photography Festival in 2008 and the Silver Prize at the Lianzhou International Photography Festival in 2006. He currently lives and works in Beijing.
14 May – 14 Jun 2014