The exhibit which opened at the Asia Society last night was far smaller than I expected it to be, but its excellent execution, the boldness and timeliness of its topic, and the immense significance of some of the works included in a strange way make up for this.
It is meant to be an exhibit documenting the art of the roughly thirty years of Communist China under Mao Zedong, extending from the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 to the end of the Cultural Revolution and Mao’s death in 1976. It includes some amazing works, including several original paintings which served as the basis for some of the most famous propaganda posters of the period, studies and sketches produced in preparation for the creation of some of these paintings, and a video of an interview with Lin Chunhua, the painter of “Chairman Mao goes to Anyuan” (毛主席去安源), one of the most famous depictions of Mao.
Also included are a great number of early works by Xu Bing, one of the top contemporary Chinese artists today, who I featured several weeks ago, and who, I was surprised to learn, was sent to the countryside as a young man (age 20), in 1975, along with a number of other young artists, for re-education.
We sort of rushed through the exhibit a bit, I would very much like to check out this exhibit again, see it again more slowly, in more detail. It is such a broad and deep topic, of such incredible significance, both historically and artistically, and there ought to be a great deal to say about it. I shall read more articles and reviews, and revisit the exhibit, hopefully soon, and then I shall return with a longer, more in-depth post on the subject.