Born 1988, Qiqihar, Heilongjiang
Gong Chenyu originally studied sculpture, and many of his paintings have a sculptural quality. Display—Animal Taming (2015) is a diorama of painted circus animals and skulls presented in an old living-room display cabinet. The domestic overtones are deliberate: the work is a comment on the way human beings, in using animals for their own pleasure, weaken or suppress their wildness. In the case of pets, the artist says, the suppression is almost complete; instead, “we have invested them with a kind of human nature”. With circus animals, the artist says, the wildness is still visible, but taming and training give them “some of the qualities of pets”. The three-dimensional crocodile on top of the cabinet represents perfect wholeness and wildness—the “prehistoric, dinosaur” level from which the animals have descended.