Call to mind the temperamental, brooding artist whose work, worshipped by the art cognoscenti, fails to resonate with your regular exhibition-goer. Now hold that thought, because Maurizio Cattelan is the antithesis of the caricature. His work and brand of satire precedes his name; the artist’s four-metre tall statue of a middle finger in Milan’s Piazza Affari has probably popped up on your Instagram explore page, precisely because his off-the-wall humour is something that most can get. And at Cattelan’s exhibition in Shanghai backed by Gucci — titled The Artist Is Present, in which he’s both curator and creator — there is plenty to get.

‘The Artist Is Present’, now at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai.

It’s rooted in the idea that copying is at once sacrilegious, but too the highest compliment; that the bootleg possesses its own value, despite being imitation; and that in today’s world, what isn’t a copy of something else? At the Yuz Museum in Shanghai — the metropolis of a country known for top-tier imitation — it comes to life in Cattelan’s curation of artworks by over 30 artists, including his very own copy of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.

But it’s not just Gucci’s Alessandro Michele — earlier this year, he anointed fashion appropriator Dapper Dan (prosecuted in the ’90s for his unlicensed “copies” of luxury brand logos) with his very own Gucci-backed atelier — who perceives the value in imitation. In Cattelan’s universe spotlighting the notion with delightful wit, it’s plain for all to see.

Michele (left) and Cattelan (right). The latter sports a wig and baseball cap, posing as the designer.

See what we mean?

Visit The Artist Is Present at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai from now till December 16.