As world attention focuses on the massive cultural upheavals of modern China and its unprecedented economic expansion, symbolised in the transformation of Beijing prior to the Olympics, Chinese artists have emerged after years of containment by the strictures of the national ideology. The Western art world, hungry for new spectacle, has consumed the new art with an appetite, but so quickly is the art changing that the Western viewer has little means of assessing or understanding the background to these extraordinary developments. The Revolution Continues provides the first link between the rebellious spirit of the current generation of Chinese artists and the mood of rebellion that was so evident during the years of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to the death of Mao and the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976. Jiang Jiehong, the curator from Shanghai who now heads the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City University, argues here that although the widespread destruction of traditional Chinese treasures by the Red Guards, especially in the early period of 1966, overshadows the entire period, today's rebellious artistic spirit is, in fact, an extension of Mao's legacy.
This extensive survey of new Chinese art is presented in conjunction with Jiang Jiehong's examination of the use of the colour red, the iconography of Mao, the sense of the collective and the use of language in texts that derive from the calligraphy of the propaganda poster.
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