Beijing based artist Wang Zhijie paints more than cartoonish renderings of pretty girls. They are a young generation born into the extravagant part of contemporary Chinese culture. His colorful portraits utilize ideal beauty in Chinese art; porcelain skin, shiny, dark hair, and an oval face with dramatic makeup. His background in animation shows in the way he stretches facial features to their limits. With “Big eyes” art style experiencing a boom, one can’t help but think of artists like Margaret Keane, or the application of Mark Ryden. They also enjoy material trinkets while possessing a look of fearlessness. Attractiveness cannot be fully achieved without inner beauty, and combined these create an asset that reflects certain social and financial success. In Zhijie’s view, his girls embody decades of economic prosperity in China.
His new body of work, “Girls: Linger in Beauty”, blends a cultural viewpoint with modern technique to create the caricature of a society. Here, his girls portray dominance in bejeweled military uniforms while carrying weapons or designer handbags. The male gaze is certainly implied, but Zhijie’s women are by no means easy. Rather, they use it to their advantage. Their huge, batty eyelashes capture our attention, using eccentric self expression to assert their personalities. Zhijie has said, “If you can’t change the world, the best thing you can do is be yourself.” So while he recognizes his culture’s successes, he also embraces its flaws to inspire individuality.