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. Beginning in 2000, Shi began re-working with popular Western mass media imagery, particularly those from the 1960s and 1970s - paparazzi photos of Hollywood celebrities or famous images of political diplomacy - and inserting Mao's figure into the composition. Unlike his usual "official" visage hanging over the Tian'anmen Gate, Mao appears as a lively elderly statesman dressed in formal communist attire, but enjoying the company of those around him.
In Mao Dancing (Lot 1433) and Ice Cream (Lot 1434), Shi engages us to question the rhetorical image - where the differences between image painting, photography and performance lie - and its capacity when used in a politicised way. Dressed in formal communist attire, Mao appears as an engaged member attending a ball dancing with the Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, and in the other painting Mao appears to be having a joyful conversation with Marilyn Monroe. 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.