“Chinese contemporary art is also trying to copy international brands. Whatever is popular in the west will immediately show influence in China.”
Born Hubei province, 1969
As an illustrator for a business journal, Liu Fei spent every working day immersed in news stories. This information, filtered through his native scepticism, begets paintings that mock contemporary Chinese society, from artists to businessmen to party apparatchiks. Seeing his contemporaries as overly concerned with style, Liu Fei decided to go one better and make his output a brand by using the same images over and over. One of his favourite logos is the panda, a symbol of China that in Liu Fei’s hands is not cute and cuddly but sharp-toothed and snarling. It was inspired by the panda-suit disguise worn by a warrior in the video game Onimusha: “I always thought the panda was a cute animal,” the artist says, “but they made it look very violent.” Symbolising the aggressive ambition of young Chinese on the make and of foreign-policy makers in Beijing, Liu Fei’s pandas carry slogans that evoke both commercial advertising and Communist cant. The panda logo of the environmental group WWF becomes “We Wait Fund”, “We Were Farmers” and “We Want Female”.