Shanghai-based artist takes bold stand against Chinese corruption with paintings
Artist compelled to share vision after suffering through 'Cultural Revolution'
Artist Zhang Bingjian's latest project is easy on the eye - but with a virulent point to make as well. The Chinese artist, now based in Shanghai paints his portraits in the same rosy pinks used directly in China's 100-yuan bill which still bears the monstrous dictator Mao Zedong's face. The portraits are a "Hall of Fame" - or "Shame" depicting Chinese officials who have been nailed for corruption.
Artist Zhang Bingjian's artwork is intended to raise the issue as well as encourage the public discussion of corruption in China.
"It doesn't matter if they have been found guilty of corruption for ten yuan or one million. This is just to make people think, seeing how it will end and making them reflect more," Zhang said. "This is the real power of art."
Between the ages of 6 and 16, Zhang suffered along with his country during the Cultural Revolution, a decade-long campaign led by Zedong that resulted in "ten years of catastrophe" as millions of people died in a national binge of self-destruction.
Zhang was told as a child that children in the U.S. were hungry and had no heating in the winter. This version of events came crashing down after he moved to the University of South Carolina to study a master's degree in visual arts, and learned that a turkey cost roughly three dollars.
"That period of time really helped me to see from a distance and have a vision much more clear of my country," Zhang says.
The "Hall of Fame" paintings are made in the south of China, where millions of copies of paintings are made with cheap labor and materials. "For me this is a way of showing the whole process of Chinese economy exports from provinces like Shenzhen, Guangzhou or Zhejiang," Zhang says.
China has recently been placed number 80 out of the 176 countries in Transparency International's index of state corruption. This rating will remain on the table for the term of China's newest Communist Party leaders.
"This year China just ranks in the middle, better than other countries like Russia [ranked at 133]," Professor Hu Xingdou of the Beijing Institute of Technology says.
"China is not the worst. The ranking shows that the country has done a lot in anti-corruption over these years, but still not enough."
Last year saw a host of horror stories related to China's corruption. Among them were revelations of the vast wealth held by Premier Wen Jiabao, to the downfall of Chongqing party Chief Bo Xilai, whose wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Asia Pacific News
- Top Malaysia court delays ruling on use of 'Allah'
- Filipino Cardinal blasts Catholics for hypocrisy
- Chinese train massacre carried out by Islamist gang on 'Holy War' spree
- Pakistan feeling wages of sin; Drug addiction, AIDS rife is South Asian nation
- Indian economy slows in most recent quarter
- While Cambodia's poverty rate drops, many still struggle to survive
- Slavery scandal involving teenage girls shocks Indian Tea Company
- Australian airlines Qantas to cut 5,000 jobs
- Philippine cardinal stresses that church must address poverty
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?