Ye Hongxing’s Fantasy Land

A riot of colours and layers of pop culture permeate Ye Hongxing’s large-scale canvases in a new solo exhibition, “The Fantasy Factory”.

Beijing-based artist, Ye Hongxing, has been described as a modern day, Chinese, female Andy Warhol, with her irreverent visual take on the very complex issues facing the world (and in particular her own homeland) today.

Working in the unusual medium of stickers on canvas, Ye’s works feature an unmistakable visual style, with primary colours and multi-layered images almost overwhelming to the eyes.

“Stickers are a very interesting material object because they are popular, fashionable and so forth, and the combination of all of these characteristics creates a multiplicity and multi-faced nature to them. In the beginning, I chose stickers to experiment with, but after several times using the medium, I have found that they truly give more dimensions to my work in both visual aesthetic and meaning”, Ye explained.

The use of a cheap consumer good as a medium could be read as a comment on the throwaway nature of China’s modern consumer culture – or perhaps the layers of stickers simply allow for more nuanced readings of her
layered compositions.

“Multi-layering is an important feature in my works – you could say it is kind of my style. This multiple layering adds so much through the relationships between them that it causes each element to be multi-fold”, the artist said.

“This undoubtedly increases the capacity of the works’ connotations, and offers greater possibility for viewers to interpret at different levels and experience multiple experiences”.

Looking at Ye’s works can be overwhelming, a sensory sensation, with modern motifs alongside traditional Chinese figures.

A mix of fairy-tale landscapes populated with fashionistas, gas masks, high-heeled shoes, tigers and soldiers on motorbikes, the seemingly unrelated and often-times fatuous subject matter could easily be taken as a comment on modern China’s embrace of a consumerist lifestyle to the detriment of meaningful culture.

The primary colours and pop-culture themes may give the impression that Ye’s work lacks gravitas, but there is also an underlying and menacing spectre of environmental pollution and the fading of traditional culture apparent in some of the figures. Her world, as with the one we inhabit, is anything but black and white.

The artist herself is careful to stay above the fray when it comes to dissecting the meaning of her works, though Ye is happy for viewers to take away what they will from her multi-faceted canvases.

“I never think about how to lead people to read my works. I let people understand them in their own way. However, my works provide a wide range of possibilities for viewers to explore in sensual, visual and rational depth”, she said.

Welcome to the surreal world of Ye Hongxing and contemporary China – it certainly is the stuff of fantasy.

“The Fantasy Factory: New Works by Ye Hongxing” runs until 26 October, Art+ Shanghai Gallery, 191 Suzhou Nan Lu, near Sichuan Zhong Lu. Web:

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