A Decade Of History Mao Zedong
Much of the Western world associates Chines with the restriction of individual expression. This view was enhanced by the West’s observations of repression under the political leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Cultural Revolution that was started by Chairman Mao Zedong to strengthen his control over the Chinese government and renew the revolutionary spirit of the Chinese people, and in particular, the youth of China. Mao Zedong called for Chinese youth to “purge elements of Chinese society.” During the Cultural Revolution, Chinese artists followed government guidelines that compelled them to create that expressed and supported the revolutionary goals and ideology of the Cultural …show more content…
Women in China may choose beyond the traditional roles first as daughter, and then as wives and mothers. Many traditional practices, such as women as concubines, arranged marriages, and the marrying of minor girls were abolished during the Cultural Revolution. Women were able to work outside of the home and some women were able to assume leadership positions within the Communist Party. Contemporary Chinese women have access to higher education and have assumed leadership positions within government and the private sector. Despite the increased opportunities, women are still often defined by the roles of wife and mothers. Contemporary Chinese women push against preconceived notions of what it means to be a woman in China. The art of many contemporary Chinese female artists also reflects the still changing role of women in Chinese society as many women artists resist old norms and notions of conformity. Chen Lingyang is a contemporary Chinese artist whose media is photography, art installations, and performance art. Much of her art examines the female body, notions of female sexuality, and the suppression of women through control over their bodies. Her work is startling and powerful. You might not find beauty in all of her work, but it will make you think and reflect. On viewing her art for the first time, I immediately thought of my first viewing of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography. Both artists have produced …show more content…
While some artists, such as Ai Wei Wei and Chen Lingyang continue to push political and artistic boundaries, questioning tradition and authority, others feel free to make art that is not political or provocative. These young artists did not live through the Cultural Revolution and do not feel bound by the ideologies and conventions of those artists who preceded them. They feel empowered to make art on their own terms and many are very open about pursuing art as a profession rather than as a means of political expression. As China continues to transform politically and culturally, art lovers can continue to look forward to a diversity of styles, expressions, and intent in Chinese contemporary art.
1. Forward, Roy. “Reclaiming their Bodies: Contemporary Chinese Women Artists.” Academia.edu. https://www.academia.edu/844883/Reclaiming_Their_Bodies_Contemporary_Chinese_Women_Artists. Accessed 6 October 2016.
2. Lindsay, Jennifer. “Contemporary Art with Chinese Characteristics: Relations between Beijing Artists and the Chinese Government Post-1989.” University of New Hampshire Inquiry Journal. Spring 2014. http://www.unh.edu/inquiryjournal/spring-2014/contemporary-art-chinese-characteristics-relations-between-beijing-artists-and-chinese. Accessed 7 October 2016.
3. Gladston, Paul. Contemporary Chinese Art: A Critical History. Reaktion Books. September 15,