Sui Jianguo

隋 建 国

Sculptor, Administrator, *1956 Qingdao, Shandong, lives in Beijing

Sui Jianguo, 2010, photo cafa

Photos from Sui Jianguo's Website

Sui grew up in a working class home in Qingdao, with neither of his parents having any kind of formal schooling. After a few years of local classes in traditional Chinese painting, Sui decided to seek admission to the Shandong Institute of Fine Arts, where he majored in sculpture. In 1984 he received a BA from the Shandong University and an MA in the Sculpture Department from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing in 1989.

Today he presides as Director over the Sculpture Department of CAFA. It is thanks to him that abstract and conceptual sculpture have been accepted by the Chinese authorities. He is one of the most influential administrators and a respectable sculptor in 21st century China.

The elitist values of Chairman Mao became a central almost spiritual influence on Sui's early life. To rise to the chairmanship of CAFA's sculpture department, he must have been a member of the Party, although this is not mentioned in any of his biographies. During Deng Xiaoping's more liberal reign contact with the June 4th Movement (六四运动) and the Tiananmen debacle of 1989 led him to make increasingly “radical” and “violent” artwork. Clever and careful but inherently honest Sui managed successfully to negotiate the narrow path between government control and artistic freedom.

Mao Jacket, 1997, bronze

Sleep of Reason, 2005, fiberglass
Mao bedded on 20'000 toy dinosaurs forming a
map of China

Dinosaur, 2002, fiberglass

Sui is best known for two sculptures: Mao's Jacket and Dinosaurs. Both are symbolic. Mao's Jacket (100x30 cm in heavy cast bronze) is empty, a 'Windbag', his spirit has vanished into thin air. Sui had six copies cast, which sold in Europe and Hong Kong - a sensation in 1997. He recast the jacket in fiberglas, fuller and bigger.... Of the Dinosaurs he must have had hundreds made in various shapes. A closer scrutiny of the sculpture shows that the dinosaur carries an inscription on its chest: MADE IN CHINA, which became the banner of Sui's next campaign. - He got rich!
Mao asleep on a topographical bed of 20'000 dinosaurs shows that Sui has not lost his humor - or is it sarcastic irony?

Michelangelo's Prisoners & Greek discobolus
in Mao Jackets, 2005, fiberglass

Earthly Force, 2006
rocks in fiberglass(?) cages

Motion and Tension, 2009
internally activated by el. motors

After 'Made in China' (not shown neon advertisements) Sui took the trouble of casting well-known classical Greek and Renaissance scuptures in the Beijing museum in fiberglass – fully dressed in Mao suits. Here the irony escapes me. A return to his Earthly Forces - some internally motorized, some in cages - looks artistically more interesting.


“Blind Portrait”, 2010, copies 2013
cast bronze, height 520 cm,
photo Pace Galleries, Beijing/London/NYC


One of his latest sculptures on sale by Pace Galleries is a gigantic head of a blindfolded man which dwarfs the now smartly dressed artist.
An identical copy, No. 9, graces the lawn in front of the IG-Farben-Industries-AG Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany...