Sonya Kolesnikov-Jessop writes in Newsweek about a new generation of Chinese painters less oriented toward political expression couched in satire than dealing with their own predicament:
Though still hot, those new-wave artists are giving way to a very different group: the “me-first” generation, whose members talk about each other and themselves. Born in the 1980s under China’s one-child policy, they were still children during Tiananmen and are much less interested in politics and far more concerned with individuality. [ . . . ]
Many embrace cartoons, using an imaginary world of cute, simplified characters, often with exaggerated features, clearly influenced by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Victoria Lu, creative director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, calls the style Animamix, combining the words “animation” and “comics” to describe this new esthetic, which idolizes youth and play and ignores adult politics. “These artists and their artworks are like surfers in the vast ocean, rising and falling with the waves of the times. Unable to hold to a fixed position or direction,” Lu says, “they often create shifting worlds [ . . . ] .”
Some observers note that for all their cuteness and flippant humor, these cartoonlike characters evoke a sense of loneliness, anxiety and spiritual emptiness. Karen Smith, a well-known Beijing art critic, believes the “me” generation is struggling with being single children who marry single children, overindulged by parents and in-laws but expected to one day support them. [ . . . ] It’s perhaps the greatest sign of progress that through such works young Chinese artists are observing their worlds but have gone from criticizing their country to examining, and criticizing, themselves.
All Eyes Inward (Newsweek)