(Bad) Faith in Painting(?): Critically Re-evaluating the Significance of Yu Youhan’s Political Pop Series

Paul Gladston, Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures and Critical Theory

This paper seeks to critically re-evaluate so-called ‘Political Pop’ paintings by the Shanghai-based painter Yu Youhan in relation to existentialist conceptions of good and bad faith as well as recent, ethically-related reassertions within the international art world of the possibility of oppositional socially-engaged criticality. It will be argued that any description of Yu’s Political Pop paintings as having been produced definitively in either good or bad faith overlooks a persistent enmeshing of cultural production with locally dominant discourses within the People’s Republic of China, which can be understood to play deconstructively across the boundary between conscious acceptance and rejection of freedom and, therefore, the supposed limits of oppositional artistic criticality.

See also:

  • Paul Gladston: ‘Somewhere (and Nowhere) between Modernity and Tradition: Towards a Polylogue between Differing International and Indigenous Perspectives on the Significance of Contemporary Chinese Art’, Tate Papers 21 (Spring 2014).(http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/issue-21  first posted April 2014)