The fall of the Ming Dynasty led to the establishment of the Qing Dynasty in 1644. Artists and others loyal supporters to the deposed Ming rulers would neither abide by nor serve the new government. The responses of these “left-over subjects,” to foreign occupation were wide-ranging. Some committed suicide, while others fell into poverty. Many took up reclusive lifestyles. After the Manchus took power, Zhu Da withdrew to a Buddhist monastery. 3 decades later, he retired his life as a monk and turned to painting as a living. Like a number of other ” left-pver subject” artists, Zhu Da, who now called himself Bada Shanren, developed a highly eccentric style. Fish and Rocks is a fine example of the artist’s preference for simple compositions made up of essential but expressive lines and large expanses of blank space. His work, individualistic and tending towards abstraction, rejects the conservative, Western-influenced styles employed by a number of contemporary court artists, and by extension, constitutes an act of resistance against Qing rule.
Realistic oil paintings of workers, soldiers, and peasants began to replace traditionally popular ink paintings featuring such natural subjects as landscapes, birds, and flowers. The institution of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 led to strict regulation of artistic production. Many traditional artists suffered humiliation and torture at the hands of the “Red Guard,” who publicly denounced them and destroyed their artworks and other personal property. Meanwhile, younger artists took this opportunity to create works that would be widely distributed by the government. This color lithograph of Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan is based on a well-known oil painting by Liu Chunhua, which first appeared at the Beijing Museum of the Revolution in 1967. Chunhua’s 1967 portrait depicts the Chairman as a young man walking to the Anyuan coal mine in the western Jiangxi province. In the early 1920s, Mao was among a group of enthusiastic Communist leaders who had guided the mineworkers through a successful strike. The strike had resulted in higher wages, better labor conditions, a radical educational program, and widespread support for the Communist party. The heroic pose and warm, almost glowing tones used to depict the Chairman here are characteristic of the many idealized Mao portraits produced during this period. Described by party officials as a “model work,” Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan became one of the most popular images of the Cultural Revolution. It was published widely in newspapers and journals, and reproduced in the form of posters, statues, and even on kitchenware. Some believe that more than nine hundred million reproductions of it were disseminated within the decade. That's a big change from 30 years ago, when contemporary art was emerging from decades of repression under the tight control policies of Communist China's first leader, Mao Zedong. Mao had issued explicit instructions on how art was to serve the party. Artists were told to copy the Soviet Union's &quot;socialist realism&quot; style or make pale imitations of traditional Chinese landscapes, mostly for export.
For more than a decade, Zhang has been painting an evolving series of oil paintings based on old family photographs taken during the Cultural Revolution. The series, &quot;Bloodlines: Big Family,&quot; began in the early 1990s and has become his trademark style. In 2007, one of his paintings sold at auction for $3.8 million, one of the highest prices ever paid for a work by a living Chinese artist.Zhang was one of the leaders of the so-called &quot;Sichuan School&quot; of painters who specialized in surrealistic, folkloric and deeply psychological works. Later, he developed a more subtle and colorful style, painting what he calls &quot;false portraits&quot; that explore the tension between the public and private lives of people in China during and after the Cultural Revolution. In his work, Zhang makes clever use of shadows, blurred edges and watery eyes in his characters. The characters often have identical facial features, hinting at the collective nature of the Chinese family and culture. During the Cultural Revolution, Zhang hints, China evolved into a disturbing collective mob.
Typically perceived as one of the instigators of the Cynical Realism movement, Fang Lijun is known for his oil paintings of bald men. Ambiguous in nature, Fangs works have often been viewed as expressing a feeling of disillusionment associated with the years directly after 1989.
Yue Minjun’s work is characterized by a signature laughing figure which serves as a portrait of the artist. Upon greater inspection the smiling faces contain fear, animosity, and a sense of discomfort that is a product of facing reality in contemporary times. Despite the eye-popping numbers, Ms. Weng says it was one of the most boring times in recent Chinese art history. &quot;The artists just kept producing the same thing over and over again because of the bubble,&quot; she says. &quot;Artists' creativity was destroyed because of it.&quot; &quot;When the market grew exponentially it also produced a lot of junk,&quot; says Colin Chinnery, a Beijing-based curator and director of the 2009 ShContemporary art fair, which was held in Shanghai from Sept. 10 to Sept. 13. The bubble began to burst early this year. Major auction houses scaled back their offerings. Most affected by the drop were the cynical realists, whose work had barely changed over the past decade.
The turning point inside China occurred in 2001, when the government began warming to independent artists. The exact reason isn't known; Chinese cultural officials declined to discuss the policy switch. But a general consensus among artists is that China was applying to host the 2008 Olympics and wanted to make a good impression. Contemporary art was popular with foreigners and, even if edgy, was only seen by a handful of Chinese.
&quot;This is a society that sacrifices people's rights and happiness to make a profit.&quot; – Ai Weiwei
Dylan had to strike a deal with the Ministry of Culture if he wanted his music to be heard by Chinese audiences. Hardcore Dylan fans were incensed by reports that, in order to win concert dates in Beijing and Shanghai, the singer agreed to a government-approved list of songs pointedly not including politically charged anthems such as The Times They Are A-Changin' and Blowin' in the Wind . When - three weeks ago, without any indoor home - members began gathering outdoors for worship services in the city's Zhongguancun technology hub, police stepped in to break up the meetings and arrest worshippers. Pastor Jin Tianming has been under house arrest since April 9, and more than 250 of his parishioners have also been detained, 36 of them on Easter Sunday. Members who have so far avoided arrest vow to give their alfresco service another try this coming Sunday, although the result will almost certainly be the same.
Contemporary Issues in Chinese Art and Censorship By Brianna Kutz
<ul><li>“ Throughout history, groups and individuals have sought not only to maintain control over their own lives, but also to assert their power over the lives of others. Visual art has played an important role in documenting such conflict and resistance. It also has served as a means for expressing personal views on politics, war, social inequities, and the human condition.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Anneberg Foundation, 2011) </li></ul>
Bada Shanren (Zhu Da) (1626–1705) <ul><li>After conquering, Mongols established the Yuan Dynasty in China in the thirteenth century, a number of scholar-artists choosing not to associate with the foreign rulers, had gone into self-imposed seclusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Zhu Da, a descendant of the Ming royal house, is one of the most renowned of the ”left-over subject” artists. </li></ul>Fish and Rocks (1699) (ArtSTOR) (Anneberg Foundation, 2011)
Chinese School (20 th Century) <ul><li>When Mao Zhedong first came to power in 1949, he encouraged artists to create “art for the people” that would convey Communist ideas in ways accessible to the masses. </li></ul>(Anneberg Foundation, 2011) Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan
<ul><li>“ Contemporary art — paintings, installations and other works produced in the present day — is a bright exception. The sector has thrived in part because it almost by definition reaches only an elite few. Yet its success is also due to the persistence of a handful of artists — and to the party’s willingness to let at least some flowers bloom.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Johnson & Canaves, 2009) </li></ul>
<ul><li>“ Unlike other creative types, contemporary artists were relatively immune from government pressure. They lived on the margins of society -- many in villages outside Beijing that were occasionally raided by police. But they didn't have to rely on China's government-controlled publishing houses, cinemas or theaters to reach their audience. Few in China knew who they were, but they could create and were beginning to attract international attention. Art exhibitions began to invite them, and foreign galleries gave them solo shows.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Johnson & Canaves, 2009) </li></ul>
More Arrests Connected to Ai Weiwei and LA MoCA’s Street Art Exhibition <ul><li>“ First up, another detainment by Chinese officials of someone connected to artist Ai Weiwei , who was arrested himself and has now been missing for several weeks. Adding to the growing list of other friends, relatives and colleagues who have been whisked away to points unknown, this week popular Chinese musician Zuoxiao Zuzhou and his wife Xiao Li were apprehended by government officials and have not been heard from since. As the Guardian reports, Zuzhou, a longtime friend of the missing artist, had written a piece for a Hong Kong newspaper entitled, “Who Doesn’t Love Ai Weiwei?” the day before he and his wife were detained. </li></ul><ul><li>Closer to home, the round-up of street artists continues in Los Angeles. Following French artist Space Invader ‘s arrest last week, the LA Times reports that popular “graffiti writer” Revok has been arrested at LAX “as he prepared to board a plane for Ireland.” The artist was charged with having violated his probation related to earlier vandalism charges and has now been sentenced to 180 days in jail. Both Invader and Revok have pieces in LA MoCA ‘s current and controversial Art in the Streets exhibition, which has caught the ire of local officials who claim the show glorifies graffiti and has spawned an increase in vandalism in the area.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Delahoyde, 2011) </li></ul>
Censor in the Chinese Wind <ul><li>“… In addition, last month police drew the shutters on a Songzhuang art exhibition showcasing a piece entitled "Jasmine Blossoms", detaining its creator and two other artists… </li></ul><ul><li>Online expressions of support for Ai are quickly deleted, and any hint of a street protest is stamped out before it can get started.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Ewing, 2011) </li></ul>
Local Examples <ul><li>http:// www.justseeds.org / </li></ul>
References <ul><li>Anneberg Foundation. (2011). Conflict and resistance. Retrieved from http://www.learner.org/courses/globalart/theme/12/index.html </li></ul><ul><li>Delahoyde, S. (2011, April 28). More arrests connected to Ai Weiwei and LA MoCA’s street art exhibition [Supplemental material]. Unbeige . Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/unbeige/ </li></ul><ul><li>Ewing, K. (2011, April 29).Censor in the Chinese wind. Asia Times. Retrieved from http://www.atimes.com </li></ul><ul><li>Johnson, I. & Canaves, S. (2009, October 1). Artists tests limits as China lets (a few) flowers bloom. The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com </li></ul>