Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tiananmen and The Power of Painting (2009)

NYT- A former solider at Tiannamen Square, later turned performance artist, goes back and paints what he saw, death, destruction, murder of the unarmed, and in particular, a roughly hacked off ponytail.

When people stop panicking themselves into a censorous froth about painting, I'll know painting is dead. But this keeps happening, and because of the personal nature of it, always will. The Venice Biennial's entry from Iceland gets to the same problem in the turgid contemporary art world- a meta-piece supposedly about painting, that secretly, is actually painting. Unfortunately, the painting isn't very good. Surprise!

I note that even in the New York Times, there was oddly no link to the direct images, in either story. The even, seamless, machine glaze of photography that equates all images keeps you nice and safe.

In the meantime, please enjoy and be horrified by the paintings of Zhi Lin, one of my grad school profs at UW, who has some experience of those years, and turned the curiously French academic style of Maoist era art instruction against the Chinese government murder of its own citizens protesting peacefully for democracy; people who were killed by the thousands, probably, without, I might add, any real help or more than formal protest from Bush 41. They had put up a STATUE of liberty, for god's sake-this moment was also a nadir in American history.

Update: I can't find the paintings on Google, or Bing, for that matter. This has me worried. Is Google pleasuring China's dictators yet again?

I think what I will do from now on: whenever China's leadership makes noises about reasonableness and capitalism and the earth's climate and Tibet, I will take a fresh look at Zhi's paintings, such as this fine work, "Capital Executions in China: Decapitation."

Note too, his newer work on early Chinese immigration in the U.S.


This repost yesterday of the NY Times story on Chen Guang included the thought the they hadn't actually published the paintings in any detail- I also wrote the reporter and received an interesting reply. But today, I cannot find any images in Google- or Bing for that matter -of Chen Guang's paintings of the Tianamen massacre, only references to the story and that single, very limited photo of the artist smoking- like you do.