Having lived through the Cultural Revolution, Chinese artist Li Shan frequently appropriates images from that era in his art practices. Li was one of the key figures in the Political Pop Movement in Shanghai around the 1990s. For the artist, the word “Rouge” embodies an element of surrealism; in paintings from the artist’s Rouge Series, compositions are infused with Li Shan’s iconic pink flora motif. The continuous and linear floral patterns create a sublime yet surrealistic universe.
A strong sense of irony is apparent in Li’s Rouge Series No. 7 (Lot 135) which seeks to create a dialogue between sex, a taboo topic, and communism. The flamboyant pink lotus petals surrounding the clock are arranged in such a way that is charged with erotic energy. The fissure of the clock presses an urgency to conduct sexual-related activities in an ephemeral privacy before being returning to the public eye. Li alludes to voyeurism by inserting the image of an official’s head on wings at the top right corner of the painting not only to reinforce his critique of the government’s conservative attitude toward sex, but also to highlight how such activities were monitered in order to make sure they adhered to government policies. In light of China’s progression and optimism over the past decades, Li’s mockery and satire of the clash between communist policies of the past and human sexuality continues to arouse and entertain us.