|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Tuesday, February 20, 2018
|Artists Paint Over One Thousand Stark Portraits of Chinese Corrupt and Disgraced Officials|
A portrait of disgraced official Duan Li, former Dali Mayor in Yunnan province, is placed on the floor to dry as a painter works on portraits for Chinese artist and film-maker Zhang Bingjian's "Hall of Fame" project in a studio in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province, April 27, 2011. The stark, monochromatic portraits rendered in the reddish-pink hue of China's 100 yuan banknotes, painted by a team of artists in Shenzhen's Dafen village -- known for its mass-produced knock-offs of iconic Western paintings -- are the brainchild of outspoken Zhang. REUTERS/Jason Lee
By: James Pomfret
SHENZHEN, CHINA (REUTERS).-In a dingy studio flat in southern China, a half-naked painter dabs his brush gently over a portrait of Fu Yunsheng, a land official in northern China sentenced to death for embezzling millions.
Squatting while dragging silently on a cigarette, the artist finishes the stark, smiling portrait rendered in the reddish-pink hue of China's 100 yuan banknotes, before stapling it to a wall beside six other portraits of disgraced officials including the toppled former mayor of the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, Xu Zongheng.
"I'm a little bit afraid," said the artist, surnamed Tang, of his participation in the daring but as yet underground art project to paint several thousand portraits of government officials prosecuted for graft in recent years.
The stark, monochromatic portraits, painted by a team of artists in Shenzhen's Dafen village -- known for its mass-produced knock-offs of iconic Western paintings -- are the brainchild of outspoken artist and film-maker Zhang Bingjian.
"I was shocked," said Zhang, who based the concept on the wall-lined portraits of basketball legends in the NBA Hall of Fame in the United States, and has seen the number of portraits of jailed officials steadily climb to over one thousand.
"I never thought there could be that many corrupt officials in China."
He has collected the names of more than 2,500 officials.
Through the years, China's leaders have repeatedly cautioned of the risks of endemic graft, including a sharp warning from Premier Wen Jiabao that a yawning wealth gap and graft could stoke public discontent at a time of rising inflation.
"I take the view that at present, corruption poses the biggest danger," Wen said in March, while underscoring a need for carefully controlled political reforms.
Yet the stranglehold on power by Communist Party officials, particularly at a local level, and the lack of an independent judiciary and free media, have severely hampered efforts to clean up governance as China's booming economy and ultra-capitalist impulses present ever greater opportunities for graft.
Despite an ongoing crackdown on Chinese dissidents, rights lawyers and activists including the prominent artist Ai Weiwei in recent months, Zhang is confident he'll soon secure a private exhibition venue for his project, with the approval of China's censors.
"You can't treat this (corruption issue) with an ostrich mentality, to just stick your head in the ground and stick your behind in the air," the crew-cut Zhang told Reuters.
"Art should engage in social reform. Art isn't an ivory tower. It's not just for making money or a market for collectors. Art should present a certain voice."
For now, however, a deep seam of public disdain and fear lingers toward China's underbelly of officialdom.
"These officials live in a dark world," added Tang, the artist, who lives hand to mouth and sleeps on a sheet-less mattress in the dingy studio.
"I have no inspiration. This (work) is just for survival."
Anti-corruption group Transparency International now ranks China 78th out of 178 countries in its corruption perception index, worse than countries like Romania, Turkey and Rwanda.
Zhang has pledged to preserve the "Hall of Fame" rogue's gallery as a living art installation, to swell or ebb through the years.
"It can grow bigger or it can grow smaller. It depends on what the future looks like," said Zhang.
"The day that this artwork is finished is the day that we have no more corrupt officials."
(Editing by Elaine Lies)
© Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.
May 3, 2011
Metropolitan Museum of Art Captures Alexander McQueen's Vision of Imperfect Beauty
Sotheby's Presents Its Spring London Sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
The Villa Schoningen Presents a Selection of Early Works by Andy Warhol
Hollywood, Fashion Elite Recall Alexander McQueen at Metropolitan's Gala
Collection of Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia to Tour the United States in Big Rig Truck
Major Works by Renoir and Lievens Bought by Visitor to TEFAF Maastricht 2011
More than 1,000 Year-Old Archaeological Pieces from Palenque Studied and Restored
Yardbirds Guitarist Chris Dreja to Display Historical Photographs at ZepFest, Memorial Day
Painter Joan Mitchell Finally Gets Her Due in New Alfred A. Knopf Book by Patricia Albers
Curator Peter Galassi to Retire From the Museum of Modern Art After 30 Years
Artists Paint Over One Thousand Stark Portraits of Chinese Corrupt and Disgraced Officials
Alyson Baker Named Ninth Director of Connecticut's Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Street Art Exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Prompts Praise and Concern
Leigh Anne Lester Wins 2011 Hunting Art Prize
New Orleans, Haiti Share Cultural History at Fest
Anthropology Department Receives $1 Million Gift for Mountain Archaeology Fund
Yad Vashem National Holocaust Memorial Starts Collecting Holocaust Items
First Comparative Exhibition of Chaim Soutine and Francis Bacon at Helly Nahmad Gallery
Robust Sales, Attendance at Japanese Art Exhibitions During Asia Week New York 2011
Auction Houses Christie's and Sotheby's Gear Up for New York Art Sales
Study by Paleontologists Says Ancient Pre-Human 'Nutcracker Man' Really Ate Grass
Computer Science and Biology Come Together to Make Tree Identification a Snap
Colonial Williamsburg Showcases Maps and Prints
Zoe Ryan Named Art Institute Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design
Thomas Schwartz Named New Director of Hoover Library
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- The Morgan explores the Medieval world's fascinating approach to the passage of time
2.- Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala
3.- Egyptian archaeologists unveil tomb of Old Kingdom priestess Hetpet
4.- The Speed Art Museum and Italian Ministry reach loan agreement on ancient calyx-krater
5.- Major exhibition features artistic masterpieces from the glorious Church of the Gesù
6.- From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online
7.- Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines
8.- Trish Duebber is new Coordinator of Youth Programs at Boca Raton Museum Art School
9.- Exhibition examines the way art, like language, was used to articulate a rhetoric of exclusion
10.- The Dallas Museum of Art announces gift of three major European works
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.