Saturday, September 6, 2008

Making The Really Unreal Real

Cult of Mao

"Exhibition artworks are divided into thematic sections beginning with Cult of Mao. This section examines large-scale oil paintings, woodblock prints, and posters created during the mid-1960s to mid-1970s that depict idealized images of Mao. The best of these were chosen as 'model works,' toured around the country, and were reproduced extensively as posters, acquiring national fame and iconic status. Younger artists, mostly born in the 1940s, endeavored to create realist oil paintings that captured the new revolutionary fervor. Artist Chen Danqing recalled this time in an interview in 2006, 'Nobody told you that you could paint only Mao's portrait. Mao's image was the only thing in the world that you knew you could paint... at the time, I felt that there was no difference between [me and] the Renaissance painters—they painted Jesus, I painted Mao.'"

-- Art Daily.org, on New York's Asia Society exhibition of works made during China's catastrophic "Cultural Revolution."

And let's not forget this art's cultish effect on the present: