He began as a struggling artist in the 1990s as a member of the artistic community at Yuan Ming Yuan in the outskirts of Beijing away from the penetrating eyes of political persecution. When the community broke up, Mingjun shifted to Tongxian, where he flourished, along with other artists.
The reason for his success can be attributed by what is known as "cynical realism" in post modernist art. Almost all his works so far, without exception, have contained self-portraits which from a distance look like they are bursting with mirth. But once one sees the gaping blackness of their mouths and eyes closed tightly shut, almost rolling in apparent hilarity in sad, desperate contexts, one realizes that the laughter could be a laughter of absurdity, of cynicism and of critical political commentary.
The laughter has been a hallmark of Mingjun's work, making it instantly recognizable, and it has been interpreted variously by different people at disparate points of time. But the artist himself sees his laughing self-portrait as a part of his evolution from the despair of his past, where reality was so very different from his idea of ideal existence. In his opinion, sometimes the only reaction left in the face of utter despair is laughter.
The laughter also comes in part from the Chinese tradition of the Laughing Buddha, whose permanent expression is that of laughter, and who is addit ...