Visual Arts Library
This work is from a body of works know as the Sunrise paintings, an example of an artist's more private response to the Cultural Revolution, though it is not immediately recognizable as such. It requires the artist's disclosure of his private concerns to enable viewers to see the connection between the brooding atmosphere of this dark and powerful, semi-abstract painting and the artist's experience of the Cultural Revolution.
Artist's Statement When I was in China, teachers, the government, everybody told you art is a tool of the government, of the party. You have to do something useful for the Communist Party. So when I left China I hated this idea; I thought art is art, art is not a tool, I am not a tool. As Lenin said, literature and art are 'cogs and wheels in the whole revolutionary machine'. I knew when I painted the Sunrise paintings that there was a kind of relationship with Mao's images and my life experience in China, but I deliberately avoided this kind of feeling. So I named them Impression: Sunrise, 114 Years After Monet. I prefer an art-historical reference, but of course I could not make the political meaning disappear.
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