Thursday, March 21, 2013

Modern Art in China

Today I took a day trip into the 798 Art District, a famous modern gallery district in Beijing. I viewed art from several modern Chinese artists. It was fascinating to see the improvisations and innovations these artists had brought to traditional Chinese art. Instead of the traditional hanging scroll and ink paintings, many artists are now using canvas and acrylic and oil paints, but using many of the same forms and themes. I began taking down names of my favorite artists I discovered there. The list became two pages long. Some artists could be interpreted as subversive. One painted portraits of Chinese peasants who looked despondent. Another painted a portrait of Chairman Mao smoking a cigarette and reclining on a couch in front of the television. This gave me hope for the future of China. Previous Chinese premiers, such as Chairman Mao and Deng Xiaoping, would never have permitted these recalcitrant artists to display their work. While many websites are still censored in China, the 798 Art District has been allowed to exist and flourish. Perhaps this is evidence of democratic future in China in which civil liberties are given more respect, similar to its neighbors of Taiwan and India.

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