Liao Yibai: Real Fake Irony

Chinese artist Liao Yibai created so many commanding, stainless steel sculptures for his new series Real Fake, that two galleries had to join forces to exhibit the works. Yibai’s artworks are sleek and meticulously detailed sculptures that examine “China’s rags-to-riches story of material obsession” and “the concepts of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ through mash-ups of luxury labels, the appropriation of real fake brand names, and the creation of his own luxury brands…” (from the press release). According to the show’s press release, today in China “it is difficult to determine what is real while so many fake brands have assimilated into its culture.”  In the not-too-distant-past, one only had to venture down to Canal Street in NYC’s Chinatown to witness firsthand the countless “fake brands” being peddled by street vendors.  With his elegant and funny works in Real Fake, Yibai “exposes this cultural phenomenon and questions the skewed concept of value on a variety of levels.”  The artist has recreated larger-than-life designer handbags, watches, rings, shoes, cell phones, lipsticks, even currency, along with a number of birds and bugs, stamped and emblazoned with various luxury logos to “confront the multitudes of popular brands and logos and their overwhelming presence in today’s society.”  This series brings attention to society’s “increasing obsession with opulence and luxury goods while glorifying and laughing at it simultaneously.” In a cheeky turn poking fun at genuine imitation brands like “Hiphone” and “CHIMA,” Yibai created his own brands and stuck their logos and labels on his oversized, luxury goods.  To humorously comment on the “Chinese ‘Fake Makers'” industry that constantly knocks off big fashion houses, the artist created his “own hybrids, such as a Real Sprada handbag or a Rolls Phillipe watch.”  Yibai successfully satirizes the shady industry that produces counterfeit merchandise and mocks the label-whorish, superficial masses that greedily consume the Real Fakes.