“This art is all about people: their lives, their ideals, their entanglements, their gatherings, their loneliness.”

Born 1971, Zhengzhou, Henan

If viewers laugh at his whimsical sculptures and paintings, Cao Yingbin is happy. “I laugh myself when I’m making them,” he says. “Reality is absurd. For me things start getting real only when I start drawing and forget who I am.” People’s Park (2009) presents three surgical trays on which are neatly arrayed tiny body organs and heads of Mickey Mouse, Astro Boy and the Monkey King. The title mocks the Communist habit of attaching the word “people’s” to everything from newspapers and banks to the Communist Party. Buy and Sell (2008) assigns outlandish prices in various currencies to similarly dismembered items: $US370,000 for Donald Duck’s head, £4900 for a brain, and RMB39,300 for a pair of eyeballs. “In China these days, we are only small figures without the right to speak out,” the artist comments. His surreal collages underscore the topsy-turvy nature of contemporary values.

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