Pan Xing Lei



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Pan Xing Lei
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Pan Xing Lei is a radically bold artist.

He is known as a member of the “f*ck off generation” of Chinese artists who came to prominence after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. His bold, political work certainly captures this. Xing Lei was in fact only 19 when the massacre took place, and he was there - he managed to escape death and jail after being one of the six students that erected The Goddess of Democracy monument in the public space that inflamed the incident. Ballsy for just 19.

Less than 10 years later he took to the same public tactics, when he splashed a colonial statue of Queen Victoria with red paint, and smashed its nose with a hammer. Shockingly (ha), many people weren’t super down on that action, and he was taken to jail, where he would remain for a month. The performance was enough to make him a star - he became known as the “red man,” and he quickly began showing around the world, including at many blue chip galleries in NYC. This performance opened the door for many conversations that are still happening today - anyone familiar with the debate on confederate monuments? Not such a far cry from one about colonialism…

Pan Xing Lei’s work cannot be tied down to a single category. He is well known for his latex casts of bodies (such as Rubber Man), photography, sculpture, ink paintings, video, and - of course - performance. One such performance (enacting a funeral) was even featured in a 1999 article for Art in America magazine.

Despite the rather inflammatory nature of his work, Pan Xing Lei has had monetary success, with the price of his works reaching about $30,000. People like a good show, I guess. Frequent words that come up when describing his work are “provocative” and “controversial.” Honestly, isn’t that what’s great about contemporary art?




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