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A series of distinctive, blue portrait paintings by Chinese artist Yang Shaobin on view at Arken
Portrait of Yang Shaobin.
COPENHAGEN.- The Chinese artist Yang Shaobin has created a series of distinctive, blue portrait paintings taking off from the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, 2009. The work can be experienced at ARKEN until 22 September, when Yang Shaobin closes the doors to his first solo exhibition in Denmark.

We enter a room of large, blue paintings, half-dissolved figures staring back at us from the canvases. Faces of well-known world leaders emerge, including US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin. These well-known faces hang side by side with portraits of completely unknown adults and children, all victims of pollution and natural disasters.

Yang Shaobin got the idea for BLUE ROOM during a trip from Australia to China, just as the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference was kicking off in Copenhagen. Based on the conference, he started collecting material on pollution and natural disasters along with stories and photographs of some of the ordinary people impacted by the global climate changes.

ARKEN director Christian Gether says, “We have here one of the most interesting painters in China today – a painter exploring, in experimental ways, the possibilities of painting and its potential for dealing with important social issues. It’s a great pleasure to be able to present Yang Shaobin in a special exhibition.”

A self-taught artist, Yang Shaobin grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution and became part of the emerging Chinese art scene in the 1990s. His sociocritical paintings deal with subjects like violence, oppression and poverty, as seen in his depictions of the working conditions of Chinese coalminers.

In BLUE ROOM, anonymous victims of climate change are posed alongside top world leaders. It’s a meeting of the powerless, the powerful and us, the onlookers, in an exchange of gazes that’s both dramatic and alluring.

Yang Shaobin previously showed at ARKEN in the 2009 group exhibition CHINAMANIA.

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