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Yue Minjun's work revolves around his characteristic grinning self-image - a repeated motif throughout his oeuvre. The figures, all based on a generic self-portrait, are each rendered with an inane beaming smile - a cynical grimace that represents the artist's resignation and disdain towards the materialism and spiritual emptiness of contemporary mainland Chinese culture.
"In my work, laughter is a representation of a state of helplessness, lack of strength and participation, with the absence of our rights that society has imposed on us." — Yue Minjun
In "Big swans" Minjun represents himself laughing, the same recurring motif of his oeuvre, and pointing at flighting swans. Yue employs a minimal palette to create a simple, even simplified, composition. The result is a bold and striking image. This stylistic technique is characteristic to Yue's work and although possibly inspired by commercial advertising and Pop Art, the imagery undeniably taunts Communist propaganda painting and posters.