Session - 27 November 2020
Dr. Zhijian Qian, City Tech College of CUNY, New York, USA
Hong Lu, United Art Museum, Wuhan, China
Tianxue Hua, Institute of Fine Arts, Chinese National Academy of Arts, Beijing, China
Dr Qi Zhu, Institute of Fine Arts, China National Academy of Painting, Beijing, China
Decades after the end of the Cultural Revolution, the effects of its revolutionary art legacy are still lingering over the art world in today’s China and may not be easily fading away in the foreseeable future. Although its aesthetic values have been under criticism, they are continued in a variety of visual disguises and are sometimes readopted and advocated whenever the political and social circumstances are fitting. Yet its true significance and its impact on contemporary art in China have not been profoundly investigated. The speakers of this session will discuss how key principles of revolutionary aesthetics were constructed in the Cultural Revolution and how Chinese contemporary artists respond to them in their works today. Lu Hong and Hua Tianxue will discuss how revolutionary aesthetics were promoted in one case and used against traditional Chinese art in another case. Lu’s paper elaborates the promotion of the revolutionary aesthetics through his discussion of a high-profile painting created by a group of artists from a state-owned art institution. Hua Tianxue explores how and why certain types of art works, especially traditional ink paintings, were targeted as examples of an anti-revolutionary aesthetics and criticized as dangerous “black paintings”. Zhu Qi and Zhijian Qian will discuss different takes by Chinese contemporary artists on the visual art legacy of the Cultural Revolution. Zhu’s paper investigates how and why the iconic image of Mao as a sign has continued into the contemporary period, while Qian examines the visual memories of the Cultural Revolution in the works of artists born in the 1960s who were traumatized in different ways.