Shen Jingdong

Draw the hero back to the day-to-day significance

On "Hero" series of Shen Jingdong

By Zhu Qi

The image that Shen Jingdong's "hero" series created is an image of the soldiers with certain identity. This image is hardly to tell who the specific soldier is. His facial features are vague, and in fact he is a man in common sense. In clothing and attitude which stand his identity his individuality is replaced by a common ideology.

The image of the soldier which was named hero is out of refinement. They are created into four kinds of people, which are the red, the yellow, the bald and the soldiers with hat. The yellow soldiers possess a hue of humanity, and the red soldiers stand for the solemn atmosphere of revolution. Their bodies are not only dressed in the uniform dress, but also have a fixed correct upright posture. This kind of image comes from his experience in the army. Almost every soldier with certain personality will be uniformed in the end after joining the army.

The hero series originally are a group of ceramic sculptures whose sizes are similar to a doll of a hero's bust, which make the solemnness of the soldiers' images be inclined to a kind of loveliness. It seems that these soldiers are playing the role of a hero in this uniform. Compared with the early revolutionary sculptures or sculptures of the time, although this series refer to the image theme of ideology, Shen Jingdong seems to re-endow the image-understanding with a new possibility. His soldiers possess neither the characteristics of high volumes of the early revolutionary sculptures nor the irony to the political image since the 1990s.

Shen Jingdong's soldier reduces the heroic sense of the images as much as possible. This soldier only possesses a rigid posture as a gesture to imitate when taking souvenir picture. In fact, two aspects of image features are reduced from this soldier by Shen Jingdong, one is his sense of ideology, and the other is his materiality. This makes the works concisely focus on the presentation of the relationship between people and the uniform. In Chinese "uniform" has dual meanings. As a noun, it means the dress of a certain profession; as a verb, it means in the confrontation of bodies or spirits one person is conquered by certain mandatory forces.

The vagueness of the facial features and appearance makes the portrait in fact also the extended part of the uniformity. This soldier is one admonished soldier. After the admonishment both his specific portrait features and complex inner world disappear or are hidden under the appearance of uniform and uniformity, this is unknown. But his image has become an object metaphor of the subduing of one's personality.

This soldier in fact is inclined to the everydayness of the ideology and professional admonishment. This feature also embodies in the painting series on the soldiers' sculptures. This series seems one pat of two organic parts of the presentation of the soldier, which are the soldier's standard sculpture and the painting which presents the sculpture again. The glabrousness and fragile texture of the ceramics seems not obvious in the sculpture, instead they are embodied obviously in the painting part.

This soldier is actually represented as the creation of the identification and role shaping from a common person to a soldier. He enters this hero's sculpture which is seen as the standard of admonishment, but he seems to show no serious pains, in contrary, he presents an expression of imperturbability, calmness, and complacence. The abstraction of the soldier's image and the representation of a self-normality both attempt to draw the hero back to a day-to-day eternal significance.

This mode is also used in Shen Jingdong's painting New Nation-founding Ceremony. This giant painting is the creative renovation of the classic revolutionary painting. In this painting, each of the founding leaders is painted as an ordinary and a day-to-day person without any unusualness and loftiness. Revolutioners, leaders and soldiers are actually the images with ideology in the political publicity art. Their images and backgrounds are both represented as hero and sublimity and epic landscape. In the contemporary art after 1990s they have been used by the ironic post-modernism. It is really another kind of ideology.

Through the abstraction of the images of the revolutioners and leaders and soldiers Shen Jingdong seems to try hard to make the hero really break away with the bipolar presentation between publicity art and the ironic publicity art. His soldiers and leaders are both placed in an image with more general sense. He not only draws the individual out and makes this image a man in common sense but also gets rid of the ideologist features of the publicity art and makes it an expression without historical myth. In this kind of image-filtration of abstraction, both the leaders and soldiers are normalized into one kind of day-to-day eternal essence, and the sublimity and the mysteriousness disappear. They are as real as the people around you, but only different in uniform.




Born in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China


Graduated from the fine art class of Nanjing Xiaozhuang Normal School


Graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, Nanjing Academy of Art


Serving in the Battlefront Art Troupe of the Political Department of Nanjing Military Region

At present living in Beijing

Selected Solo Exhibitions


My Kingdom of Fairytales, Art Futures Group, ArtOne, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Hidden Meanings, Colour Explosion, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China


Continue with Revolution, 3V Gallery, Nanjing, China


We could be Heroesâ…¡, The Rotunda,Exchange Square,Central, Hong Kong


Hero (Volta Art Fair, New York, USA)


Hero (China Square Gallery, New York, USA)

The Most Beloved People (Today Art Museum & New Millennium Gallery, Beijing, China)


Making of Heroes over 10 Years (Imagine Gallery, Beijing, China)

We could be Heroes (Yan Gallery, Hong Kong)


Images of Heroes (New Millennium Gallery, Beijing, China)

Exhibition of One Painting (88 Art Document Storehouse, Beijing, China)

Selected Group Exhibitions


Asia Contemporary Art Show Hong Kong 2017, Hong Kong


Singapore Contemporary Art Show(Asia Contemporary Art Show Singapore), Singapore

Asia Contemporary Art Show Hong Kong 2016, Hong Kong

Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2016


Asia Contemporary Art Show Hong Kong 2015, Hong Kong

Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2015, Hong Kong

Tearls Like, SZ ART CENTER, Beijing, China

Asia and Asia Talk, Cheju Island Modern Art Museum, Cheju Island, Korea


International Figurative And Abstract Exhibition, Ningbo Cultural Center, Ningbo, China

Unbounded Place, Hongding Gallery, Beijing, China

The 2nd Italy And Chinese Contemporary Art Biennale, 798 Art Factory, Beijing, China

Nucleus, 99 Art Museum, Beijing, China

Water Melody, He Gallery, Beijing, China

Situation 2014•Contemporary Art Invitation Exhibition, China and Czekh Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing, China

Heavy Feet Prints•Nanjing International Art Exhibition, Nanjing International Exhibition Center, Nanjing, China


Blooming Spring, Yibin Space, Beijing, China

115 Artists Self Portraits, Chinese Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing, China

Mini Art, Jiuceng Art Museum, Beijing, China

Free Breathing, Tokyo Chinese Cultural Art Center, Tokyo, Japan

Experiences of The Soviet Area, Songzhuang Professional Artists Museum, Beijing, China

Walking at Heiqiao in The Night, Heiqiao, Beijing, China

Creation Plan and Sketches Exhibition, Jiuceng Art Museum, Beijing, China

Cheongju Art Biennale, Cheongju, Korea

Get Together•5 Teachers and Students Exhibition, Gongwangfu, Beijing, China

We, Songzhuang Art Museum, Beijing, China

There Should No Place to Live•Jiangsu Contemporary Art Research Exhibition, Zhejiang Art Museum, China


The 1st Italy and Chinese Contemporary Art Biennale, Monza Royal Garden, Italy

Garden Dream and Walk•Part â…¡, Mudidi Gallery, Beijing, China

Unbounded Drunk, Shan Art Museum, Nanjing, China

Serious and Not Serious, Hunan Meilun Art Museum, Hunan, China

New Prints Exhibition of China, San Francesco Museum of Art, Cuba

Love Chinese Contemporary Art•Art Derivatives Exhibition, Harbour City Art Museum, Hongkong

Pulse Condition•The 1st Qinghuangdao Documental Exhibition, Qinghuangdao Contemporary Art Museum, Qinghuangdao, China

Art Front Contemporary Art Exhibition, Songzhuang Art Museum, Beijing, China

The 12th Army Art Exhibition, National Art Museum, Beijing, China

Perplexity and Extention, Sanchuan Art Museum, Nanjing, China

Judas, Shangdong Art Museum, Nanjing, China

Assemble in 798•contempoary art exhibition with military theme, Time Space, Beijing, China


Folded World, Gu'an Art Center, Nanjing, China

Journey From Red Gate, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, China

Flowing Art•Surreal pop, Yue Museum, Beijing, China

Review•Sanbangongfang 15 years Review Exhibition, Sanbangongfang, Beijing, China

Primary Tenses•Contemporary Art Exhibition, Time Space, Beijing, China    

Art Qingdao•2011 The 1st Contemporary Sculpture Exihibition, Bailiguangcgang 3rd Floor Art Space, Qingdao, China

People•Power of Art, Seoul Yongyin Art Museum, Seoul, Korea

New History Songzhuang, Sunshine Art Museum, Beijing, China

2011 Nanjing Contemporary Art Annual Exhibition, Shangdong Art Museum, Nanjing, China


"RESHAPING HISTORY Chinart from 2000 to 2009″ China National Convention Center Beijing

"East/West - Visually Speaking"

(Paul & Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum,University of Louisiana at Lafayette,USA)

(Museum of Contemporary Art/Jacksonville,Florida,USA )


Tension at Poles - Invitational Exhibition of Works of Masters from Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu (Luodai Town, Chengdu, China)

Trust - Exhibition of Contemporary Painting (Star Factory Art Center, Beijing)

Context - Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Painting (Beijing Foundery Museum of Art, China)

Memory of China - Exchange Exhibition of Chinese and Spanish Artists' Works (Time Space in 798 Factory, Beijing, China)

Strength of Practice, the Third Documenta of Contemporary Chinese Prints (Nanjing Museum, China)

Red Memory (Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai, China)

China-Korean Exchange Exposition (798 Yan Gallery, Beijing, China)

Invitational Exhibition of Experimental Contemporary Arts (Museum of Contemporary Art, Songzhuang, Beijing, China)

Chengdu Biennale (New International Convention & Exposition Center, Chengdu, China)

Visual Presentation of Identity (Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, China)


Multiple Perspectives - Exhibition of 11 Chinese Contemporary Artists' Works (Beijing You Gallery, Beijing, China)

Assembling under the Five Rings (Legend Hotel, Beijing, China)

Up North - Exhibition of Jiangsu Artists' Works (Egret Art Center, Beijing, China)

Up North, Down South (Art for All Society, Beijing , China)

Post-Modern Expression of Red Classics (Dong. Coffee. Event in 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China)

Strength of Practice - the Second Documenta of Contemporary Chinese Prints (Nanjing Museum, China)

Drifting - China - Korean Exchange Exposition (Top Gallery, 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China)


Body • Impression - The Human Body in Contemporary Chinese Art (Red Gate Gallery, 798 Art Zone, Beijing, China)

Revolution (China Square Gallery, New York, USA)

Tie - Path (You Gallery, Beijing, China)

Progressive Tense (New Millennium Gallery, Beijing, China)


Ash and Red - Contemporary Art Exhibition (Beijing New Art Project, China)

Consumerist Time (Sart Gallery, Beijing, China)

Imagine Gallery Group Exhibition (Beijing Imagine Gallery, China)

Qingzhou International Plastic Arts Exhibition (Museum of Qingzhou, Shandong, China)

Under the Rainbow - Exhibition of Contemporary Asian Art (South Korea)

The Breadth of Painting Determines Attitude, Photography Biennale (Pingyao, China)

2006 China International Gallery Exposition 2006 (Beijing China World Trade Center, China)

You Gallery Group Exhibition in September (You Gallery, Beijing, China)


Exhibition 3N Group Works (Imagine Gallery, Beijing, China)

The Second Dashangzi International Art Festival (798 Art Zone, Beijing, China)

Look Ahead, March On - Exhibition of Four Contemporary Soldiers' Works (Pickled Art Center, Beijing, China)

String - Exhibition of Works of 5 Visiting Artists at Red Gate Gallery (Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, China)

I Love Beijing (Suojia Village International Arts Camp, Beijing, China)

Produce Clouds with One Turn of the Hand and Rain with Another: Contemporary Art Exhibition (TSI Art Museum, Beijing, China)

Illness - Our Todays Art (Nanjing Art Museum, China)


Art Exhibition to Mark the 30th Anniversary of Jiangsu Art Monthly (Nanjing Museum, China)

Exhibition of Works of William J. Andersen and Shen Jingdong (Pickled Art Center, Beijing, China)

Eight Minus One Contemporary Oil Painting Exhibition (88 Art Document Storehouse, Beijing, China)

UN World Peace Art Exhibition (South Korea)

Angle - Exchange Exhibition of Works of Artists of Three Places (Red Classic Art Gallery in Nanjing, Andres Gallery in Shanghai, and China Blue Gallery in Beijing)


"Shadow" Art Exhibition (Art Storehouse, Kunming, China)

Measuring Pupil Distance - Video Exhibition (Shenzhen, China)

Are You Familiar with Them? - Modern Oil Painting Exhibition (Nanjing Shenghua Art Center, China)

China Today Art Exhibition (China Millennium Altar, Beijing, China)

Chatting - Chinese and Belgian Artist Exchange Exhibition (European Cultural Exchange Center, Xiamen, China)

Dissimilar Sameness - Chinese and Slovenian Artist Exchange Exhibition (Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, China)


Basking in the Sun (Nanjing, China)

"Open Platform" the Third International Performance Art Festival (Xi'an, China)

Daydream - Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Art (Nanjing Museum, China)


China Performance Photography Exhibition (Asian-Pacific Contemporary Art Archives, Italy)

The Second Asian-Pacific International Contemporary Art Biennale (Genoa National Modern Art Gallery, Italy)

China Plan - Circumrotating 360℃(Haishangshan Art Gallery, Shanghai, China)

"N Roles" Exhibition (Nanjing Navy Commanders' Academy, Nanjing, China)


"Sea Horizon" Conceptual Photography Exhibition (Xiamen, China)

"Partial Clicking" Conceptual Photography Exhibition

(Daguangming Mall, Nanjing, China)

"Ink, Ink, Ink" Art Exhibition (Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai, China)

Asian International Peace Modern Art Exhibition 2000 (Nanjing Museum, China)

Communication of Intentions

- Chinese Conceptual Photography Exhibition (Asian-Pacific Contemporary Art Archive, Italy)


The Third Itinerant Exhibition of "Borderline Vision" (East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)

"A Hundred People, a Hundred Names over a Hundred Years" Exhibition (School of Fine Arts, Nanjing Normal University and Yi Bo Hall in Shanghai)


Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Art (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong, China)

The Second Itinerant Exhibition of "Borderline Vision" (Contemporary Art Museum, Beijing, China)


The First Itinerant Exhibition of "Borderline Vision" (Jiangsu Gallery, Nanjing, China)


"Period of Time ‘95 - Breaking through" Exhibition (Exhibition Hall of Nanjing Arts Institute, Nanjing, China)

Art Exhibition to Mark the 30th Anniversary of Jiangsu Art Monthly (Nanjing Arts Institute, Nanjing, China)


"New Face" Art Exhibition (Exhibition Hall of Nanjing Arts Institute, Nanjing, China)