“Lots of artists today are just fake. Real artists should break the traditional rules. Forget what the form is—then you can create real art.”

Born 1970, Yangjiang, Guangdong

Zheng Guogu’s artistic practice is unusually diverse, but one of his recurring themes is global consumer culture. He has had access to foreign goods and ideas all his life, but while they have influenced him in many ways he remains ambivalent about them. As interested in Buddhism as he is in computer games, he deliberately mixes sacred and profane, abstract and concrete, contemporary and ancient. In Visionary Transformation of an Insight 2 (2012), a statue of Buddha hides among the multicoloured pieces of what resembles an abstract jigsaw puzzle in oils. 2000 AD and Rust Another 2000 Years (2005) presents corroding drink cans as archaeological finds, equating contemporary consumer culture to that of the ancient Incas or Egyptians. Computer Is Controlled by Pig’s Brains 134 and 135 (2007–2014) are part of a long series in which the artist turns scraps of text from advertising, tabloids and comics into stencils, paints over them, and pastes them on canvas and other materials. (The Chinese word for computer literally means “electric brain”). The resulting grid resembles a cross between an array of traditional signature stamps and a computer circuit diagram. In the artist’s view, the contemporary world’s meaningless “babble” of signs, headlines, captions, logos and labels overstimulates our minds much as a blizzard of spam might overload a computer.

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