Liao Yibai's reminiscences of childhood torn between two words.
Yibai "Fake Lion Dad," 2008. Stainless steel,
90 lbs. 41 x 21 x 34 inches. Photo by Mike Weiss Gallery.
What seems to be some funny, cartoon-style, large, steel, Chinese
sculptures in fact deal with important politics and historic issues
of the past century in Liao Yibai's exhibit "Imaginary Enemy."
These original sculptures, made by the an artist who grew up in
China during the Cold War, will be at Mike Weiss Gallery in Chelsea
from May 8 to August 15, 2009.
Yibai, Fighting Shadow, 2009
Stainless steel, 41 lbs. 21 x 57 x 16 inches. Photo by Mike
Between 1947 and 1991, the world was torn in two.
The ideological confrontation between Communism and the Capitalism
system contributed to the Cold War. It is in these circumstances
that Liao Yibai grew up. As the artist said: "I was born, unfortunately,
in a top-secret missile factory during the Cold War." Liao
Yibai, through his art, presents a metaphoric view on America from
the perspective of a Chinese child.
In fact, each sculpture in the gallery represents
a souvenir of Yibai's childhood, his discoveries of American culture,
the Cold War and his perception of capitalism.
Liao Yibai graduated with a degree in Fine Art at
Sichuan Academy. The 38-year-old artist has been presented in China
and Europe; this is his first exhibit in New York. He currently
lives and works in Beijing and Chongqing Sichuan province in China.
Liao Yibai's work is educational as well as artistic.
The galleries were full of young students, listening attentively
to their teacher, who was trying to explain to them the Cold War
and the concepts of Capitalism and Communism.
Top Secret Hamburger, by Liao Yibai, 2009. Stainless steel,
330 lbs. 37 x 66 x 66 inches. Photo by Mike Weiss Gallery.
When you arrive in the gallery, one of the first sculptures
you see is a hamburger with the words "TOP SECRET" written
on the bun, in Chinese and English. The sculpture relates to a story
of Yibai's childhood. When a classmate's father came back from the
U.S, everyone in the village asked him to bring back a hamburger,
because no one in the village was able to explain to the child what
a hamburger was. So he brought back a hamburger and on the top of
the box, the father had written "TOP SECRET."
Yibai. Cash Fighting, 2009. Stainless steel, 161 lbs. 32 x
52 x 30 inches. Photo by Milke Weiss Gallery.
Another sculpture, entitled, "Cash Fighting,"
depicts a Chinese man and an American fighting between U.S. and
Chinese currency notes. The sculpture alludes to the continuing
economic battle between China and America, between the Dollar and
These funny and cartoon style sculptures contrast
with the serious subjects of the exhibit. Yibai tries to make us
understand that the "enemy" during the Cold War is a relative
concept. Each piece of the exhibit has a fantastic story to tell,
and funny anecdotes, about the discoveries and confrontations between
Eastern and Western cultures that are sometimes hard for western
people to imagine and understand. [Suzanne Trouve Feff]