never-never land | key-words

obsession is like an iron mask that permits us to gaze in only one direction and at one thing–just like a tidal wave that crashes through our minds and washing away all other concerns. It is intoxication. It fills you up and makes you feel capable, purposeful and not empty.


a fantasy we create about people and places as we like them to be.
it is a lie. a wonderful place. a perfect and idyllic place/state.
sort of like a utopia – an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect
never-never land | artist reference

Yue Minjun

Painted in vibrant colors on giant canvases and featuring laughing male figures with stylized traits,
they are mainly the artist’s self-portraits presented either as a single figure or replicated endlessly to form a mob of clones doubled over in hysterics.These unsettling figures appear in grotesque poses, creating a kind of tension straddling lightheartedness, absurdity and exaggeration, which, through repetition and variation, offer endless possibilities and have made his work both powerful and subtle. At first glance, his images look happy and amusing, but we can’t get away from an underlying sense of uneasiness – his blue skies and bubblegum-pink faces soon turn into something sinister and we realize that the subjects of his paintings are laughing at something they really shouldn’t be laughing at, like a mass execution.

Placed in ludicrous, improbable, comic or tragic situations, we find these figures grinning from ear to ear
The atmosphere may be celebratory, but Yue’s images often evoke the idea of war or death.
We are plunged into a cartoon-like world where anything is possible and absurdity is the norm. But Yue doesn’t provide any clues as to what is going on in his paintings featuring unusual image associations in which every sign remains open to interpretation. With their eyes closed and mouths wide open, the painted or sculpted faces display the rigidity of impenetrable masks, putting up a barrier to block any attempt at interiority, instead reflecting whatever the viewer wants to see in them: a caricature of Chinese society’s homogenization, a way of “grinning and bearing it” in an irrational world or a form of self-derision on the part of the artist.
The act of smiling and laughing to mask feelings of helplessness held great significance for his generation.


Garbage Hill
Armed Forces

Communist posters

Idealised and glorified  it borders on being slightly unsettling. The figures captured look flushed and healthy, often as the most perfect version of themselves.

never-never land | moodboard


never-never land | key-words
Never-never land

Capturing the essence of obsession as the perfect world you create in your mind. Obsession takes over your mind. It blinds you and all you can see and on your mind is that one thing you are obsessed about. Thinking and fantasising about it fills you up and you would find yourself grinning just thinking about it.

Obsession is a fantasy you make up of people and places as you like them to be. It takes over your mind and body and you start to lose yourself. Trapped in this idyllic state, you feel a sense of happiness but one that is intoxicating. This is obsession.

Masking this fake idyllic state with the huge grins plastered across the faces of the playful characters who seem to be in a state of euphoria, it evokes a sense of uneasiness leaving viewers question if what they see is actually joy or just a happy facade.

never-never land | colour palette

The saturated colour palette used and the rendering which involves the use of white highlights to suggest this gummy and glossy, fake world contributes to suggesting the idea of a fantasy that you find yourself lost and trapped in.


never-never land | process

deciding on the background colour
white (too stark) vs human skin (fear that it may blend in too much with the bg)
that side man makes the composition a little too cluttered

never-never land | thumbnail sketches

get lost in “paradise playground”
fill me up with happiness



blinded by the fake happiness
trapped in “paradise”














never-never land | user profile


never-never land | mock-up

Author: JIA ZHEN


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