Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall
29 May 2011
Mao and McCarthy
signed and inscribed in Chinese; dated '2005' (lower left and on the reverse)
oil on canvas
192 x 313 cm. (75 1/2 x 123 1/4 in.)
Painted in 2005
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Timezone 8 Limited, The Road Map of Painting, 798 Art Space, Beijing, China, 2006 (illustrated, p. 103).
Saatchi Gallery, The Revolution Continues, London, UK, 2008 (illustrated, pp. 10-11).
The image of Chairman Mao has become one of the most ubiquitous images in contemporary art. By grafting the image of Mao Zedong into old historical photographs, Shi Xinning fabricates scenes of pseudo-reality in black and white and establishes his role as a playful interventionist in re-writing history and historical memory.
In Mao and McCarthy (Lot 1317), Shi once again engages us to question the image rhetoric - where the differences between image painting, photography and performance lie - and of its capacity when used in a politicized way. Dressed in formal communist attire, Mao appears as an engaged member attending the highly controversial House Un-American Activities Committee hearings that took place between 1938 and 1975 that held official anti-communist investigations in the name of protecting American national security. The improbability of Mao being involved in this hearing of communist subversion not only underlines the illusions of the visual world, but more importantly, the partial distortion in our judgment of history due to localized propagandistic agendas, in both China and the Western world.
Shi paints in a grand historical scale but deliberately minimizes any painterly effects, mimicking instead the crude print quality of black and white newspaper photography. His images bordering fantasy and reality continue to render constructed veracity to challenge our existing perceptions of the relationship between mass-circulated images and truth, and our understanding of history itself.
Please note that the work is also signed, dated and inscribed on the lower left.
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