The contemporary icons that Zhao Yiqian picked up as subjects of his painting are smiley face and Anaglyph 3D glasses. The smile on the yellow, circular form, known as smiley face, were first made into badges in the 1960s. The smile is a sign of consumerism and also symbolizes a new way of public language and communication. Often used through emoticons on SNS and the sign for large retailers, the smiley faces were generally used as icons of intimacy, but later they were used as allegory to drug users and corrupt behaviors.
In the work ‘New Classical’ deriving from Jan Baegert’s The Coronation of the Virgin, Zhao Yiqian replaces the halo with a smiley face. A halo in the classical period refers to the circle or light that is put around the head of Jesus or saints. A smiley face put behind the head of the Virgin Mary instead of a halo that is used to maximize the sacredness of Jesus seems to raise a question: what does being sacred and religious mean in the contemporary world and what do they mean to the modern people?
The foot which hints at the stigmata, the pants with Paisley patterns of GUCCI, and the smiley face in the work ‘Heaven’ can be seen as newly interpreted icons of both classical and contemporary aspects of society. The signs of the consumer society that have replaced the religious signs refer to the new mode of individualism and materialism of the modern men who got away from old values of religion and authority.
The anaglyphs juxtaposed with a smiley face were developed by Leipzig in 1852 and used in commercial 3D movies for the first time in 1922. When Disney studio released 3D blue ray disks in 2008, they became widespread in the world. The anaglyphs, the origins of 3D glasses, are devices with the 3D effect providing images with the red color on the left and the blue color on the right.
The glasses are nevertheless the objects devised by humans. Despite the development of technology, the devices are upgraded for the ease of human beings without the soul in itself.
Here, too, the artist keeps up with exploration and experimentation in to the essence.
People wearing anaglyphs in Untitled and Beauty are depicted as the standardized collective rather than individual beings. They stare at us with colored glasses but what they’re staring at are not the essence of objects. Revealing smiley face and anaglyphs in his painting, Zhao Yiqian casts light upon the blind modern men who are unable to see through the essence, caught up with prevalent materialism in modern society.