Fang Lijun, born in 1963 in Handan, Hebei province is one of the leading and most influential contemporary artists in china. Fang Lijun is known to be one of the main forerunners of the early 1990’s movement known as Cynical Realism. This artistic trend evolved as a result of the aftermath of the 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen and the closing of the “China Avant-Garde” exhibition at the China national Gallery in Beijing. These events which symbolize the climax of the artistic aspirations that built up during the 1980’s collapsed at once and created a void that Fang Lijun and others filled with a new message full of irony and indifference to the big forces that the individual is subject to. Fang Lijun was one of the first artists to translate this new social temperament onto the canvas. The idealism of the 1980’s gave room to a more somber and realistic understanding of the role of avant-garde art under a one party regime. Fang Lijun redefined the new artistic tendencies of contemporary Chinese art in the 1990’s. The tragic events which gave birth to Cynical Realism represent a drawback in the Arts community self confidence drive to tackle serious issues in a critical eye. Much like a capable person, physically weak being bullied by a stronger, not necessarily smarter opponent. The weak can’t fight they are left with nothing but a cynical smile which comes to terms with their inability to prevail.
Fang Lijun’s famous figure, together with Yue Minjun’s representative character, have already become well known icons in the world of Chinese contemporary art. Fang Lijun’s bald man, with his ambiguous expression and dreamlike background of unlimited space and freedom, became a symbol of the subtle mockery that one can detect in the works of the Cynical Realism artists.