Ling Jian's Communist Sister series is a recent body of work that the Beijing and Berlin trained painter has embarked upon. In these works, Ling portrays in a highly provocative and emotional style, the idealized and fictionalized Chinese "Communist Sister". These compositions are seemingly fairly simple in their construction, however, upon closer ideological inspection, it becomes apparent that they function on a deeper level.
Continuing in the ancient Greek tradition of searching for ideal beauty in a variety of sources, Ling has abandoned the more contemporary practice of painting from one model, and instead generates an amalgamated idealised female form based on an assortment of sources. In his search for perfection and beauty, Ling will take the best eye, hand, lip or nose from each model and combine them to form his figures.
Interestingly, however, the "communist sister" that Ling depicts is counter to the true Chinese communist sister who traditionally symbolises modesty and loyalty -- a woman whose sexuality is replaced with her devotion to the state and to communist ideology. As an example, the traditional red arm band that Mao supporters would wear to symbolise their loyalty is here symbolically bleeding, hinting at the confused state of being. Ling's contradictory version deals with wider cultural and political issues that plague contemporary Chinese society. Although in theory China is still ruled by a communist leadership, it no longer operates under the economical and social constraints that it once did. As the effects of the emergence of a free market are being felt and the country is being inundated with the products and values of Western culture, there is a crisis of identity in which the values of the communist era are cherished yet increasingly shunned for the pleasures of a capitalist economy.