「毛主席去安源」作者劉春華訪談 Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan: A Conversation with the Artist Liu Chunhua

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「毛主席去安源」作者劉春華訪談[①]

 

鄭勝天

2007年5月27日於北京東郊泉發花園

鄭: 回顧二十世紀中國藝術的發展,在1950年代以來的美術創作中,表現革命領袖的作品佔有重要的地位。而在領袖題材中,「毛主席去安源」又是最重要的作品之一。無論從發行數量、社會影響上來看都是前所未有的。請你先談一下這幅作品的創作過程。

劉: 畫這幅畫的時間是1967年,「文化大革命」開始的第二年。當時大的政治背景就是批判劉少奇。很多人都知道劉少奇過去在安源領導過工人罷工。首都大學中一些研究黨史的年青教員和學生對這一段歷史比較了解。他們認為在安源工人運動的領導者中毛主席是主要的一位。但「文革」以前的宣傳大多只說劉少奇。他們覺得應當把毛主席在安源的革命活動從正面宣傳出來,目的是批判劉少奇。他們策劃搞一個展覽會「毛澤東思想的光輝照亮安源工人運動」。當時都是紅衛兵參與,是一個非官方的展覽。人民大學黨史系一位年青教師張培森[②]帶了幾位學生發起這個展覽,又從全北京各院校拉了一批能寫會畫的人。他們到工藝美院找人,就找到了我。據調查毛主席在那幾年中前前後後去過安源七次,都是在中共歷史上的關鍵時刻,如「八七」會議、秋收起義、以及後來上井岡山等,都和安源有關係。很多關鍵點都是在安源發生的。當時要找人畫七幅油畫,把主席每次去安源的情況用圖畫表現出來。他們來到工藝美院我們那一派的辦公室,要求派四個人去參加這次活動:三位搞設計,一位畫油畫。當時我們這派有三個人組織了一個團體叫「紅畫兵」,也沒有什麼綱領,就是到街頭去畫大宣傳畫。辦公室主任找到我們。搞設計沒有問題,專業正對口。畫油畫就需要找一個繪畫能力强的硬手。討論時我說我願意去,可是「紅畫兵」的其他两位不贊成,怕這一攤子沒人管。於是找了另一位同學趙大鵩。他也同意了。但等了很久沒有消息,他就回大連老家去了。正在這時展覽會通知要人去報到。商量來商量去還是讓我去頂替。

鄭: 你當時是幾年級?

劉: 裝潢系四年級。我們的學制是五年。

鄭: 上工藝美院以前你學過畫沒有?

劉:我在1959年初中畢業後就考到瀋陽魯迅美術學院附中。學了四年比較全面的基礎訓練:素描、色彩、構圖練習、中國畫。色彩課主要是用水彩,但我也摸過油畫筆,畫過靜物、小風景和頭像寫生。在鲁藝附中後來我的成績比較拔尖。有一次周揚來校參觀[③],看到走廊上掛的我的一幅大衛像素描非常贊賞。老師告訴我:周揚在我的畫前面說了很多話,稱贊附中教學的進步。這件事在校園引起小小的哄動。我那時的名字叫劉成華。1963年考進了工藝美院裝潢系後,對繪畫能力的要求比較多。前三年的課程主要還是素描、色彩和中國畫。我的老師有吳冠中、衛天霖等先生[④]。教我時間最长的是吳冠中,大約有两年時間。當時我對自己的色彩沒有信心,就問吳先生是不是我的色感不好。他說:「不對不對。我已經注意你一段時間了。你用的顏料太差。你要買好一點的顏料。」當時我經濟比較困難。用的都是三、五分錢一瓶的處理廣告顏色。顏色抹上去一轉眼就變灰了。吳先生要我去買些锡管裝的好顏色。畫起來感覺確實不一樣。吳先生對我的鼓勵使我擺脫了很久以來的苦惱。後來我的畫經常被選為示範作品,裝起框來掛在教室中。甚至被同學偷走。所以我的素描和色彩水平在同學中應當算是可以的。這次去參加創作,還有另一個因素,就是我一直以來都想畫表現毛主席的創作。

鄭:「文革」以前就有這個想法嗎?為什麼?

劉: 「文革」以前就有。因為我對主席的感情比較深。我爹以上的前輩都是文盲。到我們兄弟五人全都上了學。我爹老是說:沒有共產黨、沒有毛主席、就沒有你們。平時家裏聊天時就受到這種樸實的階級感情教育。念書後一直到「文革」,對毛主席的宣傳又加深了我這種認識。過去我家一直比較苦;而解放後我大哥大姐和我都是大學畢業的。我二姐和二哥也響應黨的號召考上了師範學校。我爹說:只要你們能考上學校,我就供你們。實際上是國家供我們,都有助學金。我從小學到大學都免學費。所以實事求是講,我對主席的感情很深。很早就想畫毛主席,但一直沒有機會。老師和長者總是說領袖不能隨便畫。我很小時候就用面粉袋绷起來畫過毛主席的像。還作過一個浮雕像。都被我妈臭罵了一頓。

鄭:你是去江西畫的「毛主席去安源」嗎?

劉:展覽會是在北京中國革命博物館籌備的。革博當時被批判一貫宣傳黑線。現在紅衛兵要宣傳紅线。他們也只好讓我們搞。第一天去報到見到十幾個人在開會。電影學院的王樹璋是美術组組長。他見到我說你就畫毛主席第一次去安源吧,我們一起去江西采訪。那天開會就商量第二天上火車的具體安排。安源的歷史我過去也有所聞。但不清楚。在一两天的火車行程中,人大的一位學生秦峰向我介紹了主席第一次去安源的情節。到安源後再向當地的工人訪問。當年見過主席的一些老工人還在,跟我談他們了解的情況。但從畫畫的角度能夠找到的資料確實很少。毛主席穿什麼他們也記不清楚。只是說「先生」都穿長衫。因為經常下雨,所以有時穿草鞋、拿把傘或者斗笠。親眼見過毛主席的人記不準,更沒有照片留下來。因此作畫很困難。但我們對毛主席去的過程進行了全面的了解:他住在哪里?見過什麼人?什麼時候第一次下礦井等。我在構思過程中曾考慮下礦井最適合畫面表現;但展覽中將有一副專門畫下礦井的畫。我就不好重覆了。我又考慮毛主席從清水塘住處出發一直到離開安源,都是我構思的範圍。當時勾了很多小塊的構圖,但都不足以表現主席去安源的歷史意義。例如主席去洗煤台、餐宿處等, 很有地方特色。但這樣都需要有其他人物出現,不能夠突出主席。我還想到主席去安源的意義並不是來到安源這個地方,而是到工人群眾中去,走向全國。畫面不能太局限在安源。最後決定選取在路上行走的情節。這樣對我來說餘地更大。在安源深入生活、收集素材的半個月裏,毛主席向安源走來的形象在我腦子裏越來越強烈。環境是青山綠水、祖國的大好河山。我們是1967年7月初到達安源的的。大約7月中旬,我在山上畫寫生,畫完後隨手在紙上畫了第一張構圖。我覺得主席穿長衫比較好。一是有時代特點。二來也符合主席的身份,他是長沙清水塘小學的主事(校長)。第三造型也比較整體。這就是構思的具體過程。我們在安源對過去礦工牛馬不如的苦難生活有了更具體的體會,也更加感到主席的偉大。當時把構圖推敲來推敲去,決定採取走的畫面,但畫不出氣勢來。後來安源有一首民謠给了我啟發:

       「直到1921年,

       忽然霧散見青天,

       有個能人毛潤之,

       打從湖南來安源。」

        我決定以大片天空的雲彩作背景。既是一種自然氣氛;又是革命風雲的體現。還有一個難題就是形象。以前畫主席的面孔都是找一張相似的照片,根據照片的光線和角度來畫。再配上身體等。一般都比較呆板。我在畫構圖時事先並沒有考慮用哪張照片。從安源到長沙去考察時,我在纪念館中見到了主席的一些老照片。有1919年的,有1925年的。都是在照相館拍的。沒有辦法和我構思中的角度相吻合。回到北京後我想了一個主意。我把所有能找到的主席照片,從年青到「文革」時的都找來臨摹,熟悉主席的臉部特徵和表情,然後讓自己腦子裏逐漸醞酿出主席的面貌來,畫的時候完全不看照片。當時我畫得很慢。反反覆覆畫了很久。然後找博物館裏的大人小孩來看。問他們我畫的是誰。他們說是毛主席。我才放心了。

鄭:當時你們創作是否都是經過集體討論的?

劉:美術组實際上是象徵性的。我們從江西回來後,只開過一次會討論。大家的構圖都順利通過了,就是我的沒有通過。我拿到觀摩會上的速寫草稿很簡單。比較強烈的意見有两條:一是畫主席一個人不好。孤家寡人,脫離羣眾。二是天上的雲彩不好。毛主席是紅太陽。他一來應當是陽光普照。不能滿天烏雲。有位電影學院的同學說,你這樣畫就是「黑畫」。我也比較固執,說我就這樣畫定了,你們準備批判稿去吧!結果辯論一場,會議不歡而散。我是憋著一口氣開始畫的。其實別人的批評對我也是一種激勵。

鄭:你畫這張畫一共化了多少時間?

劉:從接受這個任務到作品完成一共是3個月:1967年7月1日到10月1日。真正在畫布上畫是 約一個半月到50天。

鄭:你們是在革命博物館畫的嗎?

劉:在革博领了材料以後,在哪裏畫都可以。當時留在館内畫的只有中央戲劇學院的楊紅太老師[⑤]和我。我怕回學校畫受干擾。我們在北樓二樓的大走廊中畫。8月9月特別熱。我就光着膀子穿一條短褲畫。10月1日開展。9月30日預展時我都還在畫。我覺得畫得不夠充分。當時的觀眾特別多,擠的時候不小心就踩到了調色板上。

鄭:觀眾的反映如何?

劉:差不多所有的觀眾都很喜歡我這張畫。我看到四本觀眾意見本。百分之九十以上的意見都是肯定的。羣眾一般喜歡人云亦云。有不少人希望這張畫出版。有的甚至要訂貨,留下了姓名、單位和電話等。

鄭:在展覽開幕前和整個展覽過程中有沒有領導審查?

劉:是紅衛兵自己審查。一開始就是造反派組織自己搞起來的。後來革博同意參加,也是只提供場地和一些財力。後來有些人想當然地說這張畫是江青和中央「文革」組織和支持的,並不是事實。恰恰相反。「文革」小組負責圖博系統的人劉巨成到革博視察工作時[⑥],聽到匯報說有這麼一個展覽。他就說不能搞。他倒不敢反對這個展覽,只是害怕展覽帶來觀眾太多,弄不好出亂子。這樣一來革博就不願意支持了。到上正稿時他們不願意给我畫布。有個工作人員很熱心,他說你看舊畫布能不能用。「文革」前夕有個全國民兵展覽半途停止了。有一堆未完成的畫布。我就找了一塊尺寸差不多的畫框,原來是一張列隊的女民兵的畫。比我的構圖略為寬一些。楊紅太勸我不要把畫布拆掉重绷,可以把構圖向两邊展開了一些。結果效果很好。我很感謝他的幫助。

鄭:從畫面本身來說,你在創作過程中,有沒有受到以前哪位藝術家或者什麼作品的影響?

劉:當時我的水平也很有限。在藝術處理上考慮得並不多。就是想把億萬人民心目中景仰期望的毛主席形象畫出來。我覺得畫一個人比較突出。人物多了不好處理。主席在年青時寫的一首詩詞是我想表達的意境:

             「 恰同學少年,風華正茂;

              書生意氣,揮斥方遒。

              指點江山,激揚文字,

              糞土當年萬戶侯。」[⑦]

群眾的希望和主席當時的精神面貌就是我在創作中所追求的。

鄭:你創作時是否參考過蘇聯的革命歷史畫?

劉:我不是學油畫專業的,但比較喜歡油畫工具的特點。大創作我沒有畫過。我想這個展覽會是一個歷史展覽,這張畫是给羣眾看的,不能有太多的藝術處理。手法上要寫實一些。蘇聯的小謝洛夫畫過一批列寧題材的作品,手法非常寫實。如「列寧會見農民代表」[⑧],畫上連沙發布都十分逼真,使得歷史場面真實可信。這幅畫對我的啟示最大。我的技術雖然沒有達到這個地步,但我追求的就是如何使羣眾能夠接受,以及歷史的可信性。主席說要「創作出老百姓喜聞樂見的中國作風和中國氣派」,對我影響很大。我覺得從中國老百姓的欣賞習慣著眼,就不能太強調筆觸和色彩的冷暖對比。

鄭:有人評論這幅畫和一般的油畫構圖不太一樣。毛主席在畫面的中央,令人想起一些西方的宗教繪畫和聖像。你是否在創作時有意把毛主席作為神明來表現呢?

劉:我完全沒有從宗教的角度來考慮。我確實想把主席表現得比較偉大。所以採取了較低的視角,把主席放在中央;但並沒有想把主席帶上光環,當作神來刻劃。後來有朋友告訴我為什麼這張畫羣眾喜歡。因為畫中有山有水,而且顏色是冷調子。看上去比較舒服。

鄭:也許你創作時的崇敬心理和聖像畫的作者的心態很近似。

劉:確實是這樣。我也聽說梵諦崗曾經把「毛主席去安源」掛在教堂裏。有人問為什麼。他們回答說:毛澤東是人類歷史上一個偉大的播道人。不過我不知道這個傳聞是真是假。

鄭:在聖經上也有類似的情節:基督耶穌從曠野走向期待他的信眾。有些畫家描繪過這個場面。你以前看過一些西方的宗教題材的繪畫嗎?譬如拉斐爾的作品[⑨]

劉:我對宗教很無知。有的畫見過。但是對它們的歷史背景並不了解。

鄭:以前你在工藝美院學過西方美術史和文藝復興時期的藝術嗎?

劉:學過。是吳達志先生教的[⑩]。他因為是從設計專業角度來談,對現代藝術也很關注。我直到去年去歐洲參觀博物館,才真正大開眼界。

鄭:「毛主席去安源」展出後雖然受到觀眾歡迎;但真正在全國聞名還是在1968年7月1日人民日報發表以後。那時這張畫被提高到「樣板畫」的高度。你對此有沒有任何預見?你當時的反應是什麼?

劉:先講一下這個過程。這張畫的發表有三個因素:一是觀眾的要求;二是展覽會宣傳的需要;三是江青對這張畫說了話。不可否認,江青的意見在當時是很重要的。

鄭:江青是否來看過展覽?

劉:沒有。其實是個很偶然的機會。中央美院版畫系的楊先讓教授[11]當時在展覽會搞創作。他的妹妹在人民畫報社工作。有一天他打電話找他妹妹未找到。是人民畫報一位造反派的頭兒接的電話。他們都很熟,在談話中提到展覽會上有幅畫很受觀眾歡迎。那位頭兒就派了位記者錢浩來看。他看了覺得不錯。中午回去匯報後,那天下午人民畫報的攝影記者就來革博拍大的彩片。當時人民畫報是由中央「文革」直接審稿的。照片上報到中央「文革」。上面回答說印出來再看。他們就立即打樣。但是把畫面印反了,只好重新做。聽說江青看後做了批示。說「不錯。可以印行」。這是1968年3月左右。當時5月號已經發稿。就決定印單張夾在刊物中。人民美術出版社聽到江青的指示後也要出單張。這就是第一次發表的過程。後來到那年7月1日前,江青想繁榮一下文藝創作,用現在的話來說是「炒一炒」,就挑了這張畫,據說專門给周總理、康生、陳伯達[12]等人寫了一封信。他們也同意。「毛主席去安源」就在7月1日的人民日報上發表,成為「七一」的獻禮。這是我個人完全沒有預料到的。

鄭:你什麼時候知道江青的指示?

劉:是人民畫報给我看樣時告訴我的。這幅畫的題目原來叫「毛主席第一次到安源」。「毛主席去安源」是錢浩给起的。送審時上面沒有任何意見。6月30日在印刷時還發現作者的名字印錯了,把劉成華印成劉春華。那時有幾個年長的軍人匆忙來找我,說已經印了幾十萬份,重印和修改都有困難,徵求我的意見。我說也別浪費了,他叫他我叫我。他們聽了非常高興,紛紛和我握手。所以陰錯陽差,以後我就一直沿用了這個像似女孩的名字。

鄭:5月號人民畫報第一次發表時有沒有作者的名字?

劉:沒有。第二次才署名「北京院校同學集體創作,劉春華等執筆」。

鄭:有材料記載1968年5月19日江青在接見浙江省造反派領袖張永生等時也曾專門談到「毛主席去安源」。認為這是一張「非常好」的作品, 「把毛主席的神氣刻劃出來了。」[13] 張回杭州後就立即緊跟江青的指示,組織學校的理論班子來寫文章介紹「毛主席去安源」。

劉:我在小報上見過這個材料。我聽說張原來是一位浙江美院的學生,浙江省革委會副主任,他當時帶了一批畫到北京。但我沒有見過他。

鄭:我最後的一個問題是:你認為中國的革命藝術、表現革命題材的作品在中國美術史上占有什麼樣的地位?有人認為這些都是政治宣傳;也有人認為這是中國二十世紀藝術的經典。你個人的看法如何?

劉:我沒有特別深入的考慮過這個問題。後人可以對歷史作出不同的評價。但歷史的事實無法改變。從共產黨取得政權,建立中華人民共和國,以後在毛澤東和黨的領導下,文藝創作按照無產階級的革命路線,幾十年來產生了一大批作品。我認為這些作品是不能抹煞的。它是這些年代、這個歷史條件下藝術家真誠情感的表現。同時,不論是反映歷史或者現實生活的作品,它們表現的也都是事實。在歷史上可以站得住脚的作品必需是真誠的,不論其風格是傳統或是現代,是寫實或是抽象。一件作品在歷史長河中到底其價值有多高,我不好說;但如果它是有個性、有特點、有影響的作品,就是難得可贵的。

鄭:一些藝術家對革命的響往、對領袖的崇敬可以很真誠。但文化大革命是一個非正常的時期。從國家領導人到普通老百姓,許多人、許多家庭都曾遭到迫害和折磨。從這方面來看,「文革」是二十世紀中國歷史上的一段陰暗的時期。那麼我們該如何看待那時的歌頌性作品?它們的的價值在哪里?

劉:這是個非常敏感的問題。文化大革命實際上是一場政治斗爭。政治斗爭歷來都是有你無我。今天認為「文革」是一場浩劫。許多人蒙受不白之冤,家破人亡,非常悲慘。我在北美訪問時。在加拿大曾踫見一位來自上海的老高三學生,他奶奶在台灣。「文革」中他家被抄無數次。他的家庭苦難可想而知。改革開放後奶奶資助他去美國留學。我見他時很自然地想表示一種歉意。我說毛澤東讓你遭罪了。他卻不以為然地說:「整我們的人並不是毛澤東;而正是那些毛澤東要整的人。」所以任何一個歷史現象都是非常複雜的。從社會學的角度來看無產階級革命的歷史,如果無產階級的利益還要體現,我相信對「文革」的歷史以後還會談。

鄭:你認為中國的革命藝術除了其歷史地位以外,對當代的文化發展有沒有影響?

劉:有一定的影響。社會的發展都有一種慣性,是不能截然割斷的。幾十年來形成的文藝路線、藝術家的思維方法會一輩一輩承襲下去。而且世界文化的發展也有其同步性。例如現實主義的方法:反映和表現真實生活,許多藝術家都感興趣,畫出來又受到芸芸眾生的喜爱。這不是簡單的行政命令可以改變的。

鄭:中國的當代藝術和革命藝術有沒有傳承的關係?

劉:有。至少是一部分。例如反映現實生活的作品。如「文革」後的「傷痕」繪畫、羅中立的「父親」等。這類繪畫數量很多。也被大多數群眾所接受。

鄭:很多當代藝術家在作品中也採用「文革」藝術的視角符號,例如毛澤東的形象。他們中有一些人就是在「文革」時期成長起來的。所以西方很多人對中國當代藝術的關心也會引起他們對歷史研究的興趣。

劉:對。「文革」的視覺符號成了一種新時髦。但是在內容本質上是不一樣的,有的是一種調侃,僅僅在形式上有它的痕跡。歷史是隔不斷的。猶如人的傳種接代一樣。文化大革命是一場的政治斗爭。不同的立場、不同的觀念、不同的取向在一起攪和。從這個角度看非常對的事物,從另一個角度看會非常不對。共產黨已作過結論,自己承認「文革」是一場災難。

鄭:也就是這場獨一無二的斗爭把你這位藝術家推到了一個很特殊的地位,在你個人生活上和歷史上都留下了不可磨滅的痕跡。這也就是為什麼到今天人們還會不斷地談論「毛主席去安源」這張畫,對你的創作過程深感興趣的原因。謝謝你接受我們的訪問。


[①]  劉春華(1944-)黑龍江泰來人。1959年入魯迅美術學院附中,1963年入中央工藝美術學院。1967年創作油畫「毛主席去安源」,在「文革」期間由多家出版社出版,據王明賢、嚴善錞編著的「新中國美術圖史,1966-1976」)(北京中國青年出版社,2000年)記載,該畫總印刷數達九億多張。1979年劉春華入北京畫院從事中國畫創作,曾任北京出版社副總編輯、北京美術家協會副主席、北京畫院院長。

[②]  張培森(1931-),江蘇鎮江人。1958年中國人民大學中共黨史專業研究生畢業。現任中共中央黨史研究室張聞天選集傳記組組長、研究員。

[③]  周揚,文藝批評家,當時任中共中央宣傳部長 (1908-1989)。

[④]  吳冠中(1919-),江蘇宜興人。曾留學法國。1964年起任教於中央工藝美院。衛天霖(1898-1977),山西汾陽人,曾留學日本。1964年起任教於中央工藝美院。

[⑤]  楊紅太 (1933-)安徽宿縣人。當時任教於北京中央戲劇學院舞台美術系。

[⑥]  1967年5月23日中央文革小組成立文藝組。組長為江青,劉巨成負責文博、圖書、美術。

[⑦]  引自毛澤東著「沁園春,長沙」(1925)。見「毛澤東詩詞選」。人民文學出版社再版。1998年。

[⑧]  蘇聯畫家弗.亞.謝羅夫(Vladimir Alexandrovich Serov ,1910-1968).著名作品有A visit to Lenin(1950)。

[⑨]  意大利畫家拉斐爾(Raphael Sanzio, 1483 – 1520)。

[⑩]   吳達志(1925—)貴州人。曾任中央工藝美術學院教授,講授西方藝術史。

[11]  楊先讓(1930-)山東牟平人。歷任中央美術學院教授、民間美術系主任、中國美術家協會版畫藝術委員會副主任、中國民間美術學會常務副會長。1993年退休后赴美國居住。

[12]  陳伯達,康生和江青同為中央文化革命小組成員。該機構是中共中央在1966年5月建立的,隸屬於中共中央政治局常委會。簡稱中央文革小組。是「文革」中權力極大的機構。1969年中共九大后自動撤去後,陳,康成為五人組成的中共中央政治局常務委員會成員。(另三人為毛澤東,林彪,周恩來)

[13]  見「無限風光在險峰—江青同志關於文藝革命的講話」,1969年內部發行。第109頁。



Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan: A Conversation with the Artist Liu Chunhua


Zheng Shengtian: Looking back at the development of Chinese art in the twentieth century, of the works created after 1950 those depicting revolutionary leaders hold a place of major importance. Your painting Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan (Mao zhuxi qu Anyuan) is certainly one of the key works of this genre; in terms of both its level of dissemination and its social impact, it is unequaled. Could you comment on your creative process in producing this painting? 


Liu Chunhua: I painted this work in 1967, the second year of the Great Cultural Revolution.The political background of that time was largely defined by the campaign to criticize Liu Shaoqi. Many people were aware that in the past Liu Shaoqi had led workers’ strikes in Anyuan. But a group of young teachers and students at  universities in the Capital who had conducted in-depth research on [Chinese Communist] party history had a more complete understanding of that period, and in their opinion the true leader of the Anyuan workers’ movement was Chairman Mao―prior to the Cultural Revolution, most reports mentioned only Liu Shaoqi. This group felt that Chairman Mao’s [role] in the revolutionary movements at Anyuan should be positiively portrayed and disseminated, with the ultimate aim of criticizing Liu Shaoqi. They planned to organize an exhibition [entitled] “The Light of Chairman Mao’s Thought Illuminates the Anyuan Workers’ Movement.” Because all of the organizers were Red Guards, it was really an unofficial exhibition. Zhang Peisen, a professor in the Department of [Chinese Communist] Party History at People’s University, brought along a group of students to prepare the exhibition and also recruited a number of able painters from the various art academies in Beijing. When they came to the [Central] Academy of Arts and Crafts looking for people, they found me. 

       Research [on the Anyuan workers’ movement] showed that over a period of several years Chairman Mao visited Anyuan seven times. This was a critical period in the history of the Chinese Communist Party, and the Anyuan movement is related to other major events of the period such as the August 7th Conference, the Autumn Harvest Uprising, and the subsequent [move of the CCP base to] Jinggangshan. And many critical events occurred at Anyuan as well. [The Red Guard exhibition organizers] were looking for artists to paint seven oil paintings, each depicting one of Chairman Mao’s seven visits. When they came to the office of my unit at the Academy of Arts and Crafts, they requested that four people in the unit be assigned to take part in the exhibition: three designers and one oil painter. At that time, three of us in the unit had organized a “Red Painting Brigade.” We had no real planned agenda and mostly just went out into the streets to paint propoganda posters. The director of our office came to find us. In regard to the designers, there was no problem, since they were really quite professional. To execute the oil painting, they needed someone very skilled in painting techniques. While they were discussing this, I said that I was willing to go, but the other two people in the Red Painting Brigade wouldn’t agree to it, because they were afraid that there would be no one to manage things. So they located someone else instead, a classmate named Zhao Dafu. He agreed to do it, but after waiting a long time without any further news, he returned to his hometown, Dalian. It was around this time that the exhibition committee sent out notices that participants should go and register. After many rounds of discussion, it was finally agreed that I could go as [Zhao’s] replacement. 


ZST: What year were you in at the time?


LCH: I was in my fourth year in the Design Department. Our diploma program was five years.


ZST: Had you studied painting previous to attending the Academy of Arts and Crafts?


LCH: After I graduated from junior high school in 1959, I was accepted to the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts Middle School in Shenyang. I had four years of pretty thorough training there: drawing, color studies, composition, Chinese painting, and so forth. In our color studies class, we focused mostly on watercolors, but I also did some oil painting as well, including still lifes, landscapes, and portraits. Actually, as I progressed through the school, I achieved very high assessments for my work. One time, Zhou Yang came to visit our school, and he praised a drawing I had done of [Michelangelo’s] David, which was hanging in the school corridor. My teacher told me that when Zhou Yang saw my drawing, he paused in front of it and discussed it, and he also complimented the school on the progress of its students. This event caused a bit of a stir on campus. At that time, I was called Liu Chenghua.

       In 1963 I was accepted into the Design Department of the Academy of Arts and Crafts, and there the requirements for oil painting were more extensive. In the previous three years, the emphasis in my classes had been on drawing, color, and Chinese painting. My teachers included Wu Guanzhong and Wei Tianlin. Wu Guanzhong taught me for the longest [period of time], about two years. At that time, I had very little confidence in my ability to use color, and I asked Wu Guanzhong if it was a case of not having a good enough sense of color. He said, “No, not at all. I’ve already been watching you for quite a while. It’s just that the quality of the paints you’ve been using is very poor. You must buy yourself some good-quality paints.” At that time, my economic situation wasn’t too good. I was using cheap on sale poster paints that cost only a few pennies a jar. Whenever I worked with them, the colors would turn dull and ashy almost immediately. Mr. Wu asked me to go and buy some good-quality paints, the kind that came in metal tubes. Painting with them was a totally different experience. Mr Wu’s encouragement really helped me get through a problem that had vexed me for a long time. Afterward, my paintings often were selected as exemplary works, and they were framed and hung up in the classrooms. Sometimes they were even stolen by my classmates, which goes to show that my drawing and color painting skills certainly passed muster with fellow students. But my involvement in this creative project [for the exhibition] was also influenced by another factor: I had always wanted to create a painting of Chairman Mao. 


ZST: Do you mean that even previous to the Cultural Revolution you had wanted to do so? Why is that?


LCH: Yes that’s right, even before the Cultural Revolution, because I have always had a very deep feeling toward Chairman Mao. In my family, everyone up through my father’s generation was illiterate. But my four siblings and I all went to school. My father would always say, “If there were no Communist Party, and if there were no Chairman Mao, then there would be no you.” Often when the family was talking together, we would receive this kind of simple, emotional class education. From the time we started school and all the way through to the Cultural Revolution, the news and propaganda about Chairman Mao deepened this sense that I had of him. While in the past my family had been quite poor, after Liberation my eldest brother, eldest sister, and I all became university graduates. And my second-oldest sister and second- oldest brother were both recruited by the party to study at the Normal School. 

    My father told us, “If you pass your exams and get into university, I will support you.” But actually it was the country that supported us, because we all had scholarships. So from primary school all the way through college, my education was free. Speaking truth from facts, it’s pretty clear why my feeling for Chairman Mao was so deep. So, very early on I wanted to paint a picture of Chairman Mao, but I never had the chance. My teachers and my elders always said that painting a picture of Chairman Mao was not something to be undertaken lightly. Once, when I was very small, I took an empty flour sack, stretched it out, and painted a portrait of Chairman Mao on it. I also carved an image of him in relief. Both times, I was severly scolded by my mother. 


ZST: Did you go to Jiangxi to paint Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan?


LCH: The plan was that the exhibition would be held at the Museum of the Revolution in Beijing. At the time, the museum had been criticized for promoting a black line. Now the Red Guards wanted to promote a red line, and the museum had no choice but to let us do so. The first day I went to report to the museum, I saw over a dozen people holding a meeting. Wang Shuzhang of the Beijing Film Academy was the director of the Fine Arts Unit. When he saw me, he said, “You can paint a picture about the first time Chairman Mao went to Anyuan. We’ll go to Jiangxi together to research this.” So, at the meeting, they discussed the arrangements for taking the train the next day. In the past, I had heard a bit about the history of Anyuan, but my understanding was quite vague. On the two-day train trip, a student from People’s University named Qin Feng filled me in on the circumstances of the Chairman’s first visit to Anyuan. When we arrived in Anyuan, we went to interview some workers. There still were a few elderly workers around who had seen Chairman Mao that year, and I talked with them to try to get a better idea of the circumstances. But little of the information I gathered was of much use for the purposes of making a painting. They couldn’t remember exactly what clothes Chairman Mao had been wearing. All they said was that “gentlemen” all wore changshen (traditional long robes), and also that, because it often rained there, Maosometimes wore straw shoes and carried an umbrella or wore a bamboo hat. Since the people who had actually seen Chairman Mao were unable to remember specific details and, in addition, there were no surviving photographs from that period, I was faced with quite a difficult situation. On the other hand, we made every effort to get as complete a picture as possible of Chairman Mao’s movements: Where did he stay? Whom did he meet? When was the first time he went into the mines? As I sketched out my preliminary ideas, at first I thought that Chairman Mao going down into the mines would be the most appropriate subject for the painting; but it turned out that someone else in the exhibition was already doing a work specifically on the mines and it wouldn’t do to repeat that.

       But I also considered the full scope of Chairman Mao’s journey, from the time he left his home in Qingshuitang all the way through to the time he left Anyuan. I made many small-scale sketches, but none of them adequately expressed the historical significance of Chairman Mao’s going to Anyuan. For example, scenes such as Chairman Mao visiting the coal-washing tower and the worker’s quarters and canteen all had a strong local flavor. But these scenes would require the inclusion of other figures, and it would be difficult to keep the focus on the Chairman. It also occurred to me that the significance of the Chairman’s going to Anyuan was not so much that he went to that particular place, but rather that he went to be among the working masses, and from them he was moving toward the entire nation. 

       In light of this, it wouldn’t do for the scope of the painting to be confined to Anyuan. In the end, I decided to use a scene set on the road to Anyuan, since this would give me greater leeway. As I got more deeply into life in Anyuan, spending half a month collecting material, the image of Chairman Mao walking toward Anyuan became ever stronger in my mind. I pictured the setting as a beautiful landscape of mountains and rivers, reflecting our country’s natural grandeur. We had arrived in Anyuan in early July 1967. In about mid-July, I went up into the mountains to paint the landscape, and when I was finished, I immediately set to work fleshing out the preliminary compositional plan. I thought that it was better to depict the Chairman wearing a changshan: in the first place, this would give it a period flavor; in the second place, it was appropriate to his position as the principal of the Qingshuitang Primary School in Changsha; and third, it created a complete sense of form. So, this was the step-by-step process of working out the composition. During our time in Anyuan, we gained a more concrete understanding of the harsh conditions and unbearable hardship the miners had endured in the past, and this deepened our appreciation of Chairman Mao’s greatness. During that time, I painted innumerable versions of the composition, and although I finally decided on using the image of Chairman Mao walking, I was still unable to achieve the right atmosphere. And then I found my inspiration in an Anyuan folk song: 

In the year 1921

The clouds suddenly cleared and we saw the blue sky

A man of ability named Mao Runzhi

Travelled from Hunan and came to Anyuan.


I decided to use a sky full of swirling, luminous clouds as the background. This would provide a natural atmosphere and yet would also be an expression of the winds of revolution. Another difficulty was Mao’s image. Previously, in preparing to paint a portrait of Chairman Mao, artists would always find a suitable photograph of him and then paint his face according to the lighting and perspective of the photograph. Afterward, they would add the  body In most cases, the result was quite stiff and lifeless. When I was doing the preliminary paintings, I didn’t consider using any particular photograph as a basis. When I travelled from Anyuan to Changsha on my research trip, I found a number of old photographs of the Chairman at the Memorial Hall [in Changsha]. There were photos taken in  studios in1919 and 1925,  and none of them fit my concept for the painting. After I returned to Beijing, I had an idea: I would gather all the photographs of the Chairman that I could find, from his youth through to the Cultural Revolution, and practice copying them until I was familiar with every detail of his face and expressions. Then, I would let just let my brain stew for a while, until I was able to paint a comprehensive image of the Chairman’s face without referring to any particular photograph. At that time, I painted very slowly, and the whole process took a long time, since I painted the image over and over again. Later, I brought the adults and children in the museum, over to my painting, and asked them whose portrait it was. They all said “It’s Chariman Mao.” Only then did I relax. 


ZST: Did the works produced by all of you [for the exhibition] have to undergo group reviews?


LCH: The Fine Arts Unit was actually more symbolic than anything else. After we came back from Jiangxi, it only held one meeting. Everyone’s preliminary sketches were approved without a problem, except for mine. The sketches I brought to the review committee were very simple. There were two strong objections: one was that it was not good to portray Chairman Mao as a solitary figure, because it would give the impression that he was separated from the masses; the other was that showing clouds in the sky was a bad idea, because Chairman Mao was the Red Sun. He should be set amid bright sunlight, not against a murky sky. A student from the Beijing  Film Academy accused me of creating a “black painting.” But I was quite stubborn and held my ground: “This is the way I’m going to paint it, and if you want to write a criticism denouncing me, then go ahead!” The result was that after arguing back and forth for a while, the meeting broke up with no satisfactory conclusion. I choked down my resentment and began to paint. In fact, other people’s criticism of me only acted to spur me on.


ZST: How long did it take you to complete the painting?


LCH: From the time I obtained the commission until the painting was completed, it took a total of three months, from July 1 to October 1, 1967. In terms of actually painting on the canvas, I spent somewhere between forty-five and fifty days


ZST: Did you paint in the Museum of the Revolution?


LCH: After picking up the painting materials from the museum, we could paint wherever we wanted to. At the time, the only painters actually working inside the museum were Professor Yang Hongtai of the Central Drama Academy and myself. I was afraid if I went back to the Academy [of Arts and Crafts]to paint, I would be bothered. We used to paint in a corridor on the second floor of the north wing. In August and September, the weather was exceptionally hot, so I used to paint shirtless and wear only a pair of shorts. The exhibition was slated to open on October 1. On September 30, the day of the preview, I was still painting [in the gallery]. I felt that the work wasn’t complete. There was a huge audience crowding around watching me paint, and a careless person even stepped on my palette.


ZST: What was the audience’s reaction?


LCH: Almost everyone in the audience really liked my painting. Later, I read four guest books full of comments. Over 90 per cent were very positive. Most of this group said they really liked both the figure [of Chairman Mao] and the clouds. Quite a number of people also said they hoped this work would be published, and even left their names, work units, and phone numbers to reserve a copy. 


ZST: Previous to the opening and during the entire exhibition, did any leaders come to inspect the works?


LCH: The Red Guards themselves carried out inspections. From the start, this whole event was planned and organized by the Rebel Factions (zaofanpai). Later, the museum agreed to participate, but it only provided the space and some material sponsorship. Of course, afterward some people claimed that the [commissioning and creation of] this painting was organized and supported by Jiang Qing and the Central Committee Cultural Revolution Group, but that is completely untrue. In fact, it was just the opposite. 

    Liu Jucheng, the person in charge of artistic activities for the Cultural Revolution Group, did pay a visit to the Museum of the Revolution to inspect the work going on there and heard reports about this exhibition. He stated that it should not take place—not because he was opposed to the exhibition itself, but rather because he was afraid it would attract too large an audience and things might get out of hand. After that, the Museum of the Revolution wanted to withdraw its support. When it came time for me to begin the final version of the painting, the museum refused to supply me with canvas. Luckily, there was a good-hearted museum staff who asked me to come and look at some usedcanvases and see if I could use any of them. On the eve of the Cultural Revolution, a “National People’s Militia Art Exhibition” had been planned, but it ended up being closed down midway and there was a whole pile of leftover, half-finished canvases. I found a framed canvas that was just about the right size for my work; it turned out to be a painting of a squadron of female soldiers of the People’s Militia. The canvas was a bit wider than the size I had planned for my composition. But Yang Hongtai advised me not to cut down and restretch the canvas but simply to open up the sides of my composition a bit. The resulting effect was really good, and I am very grateful to him for his help on this. 


ZST: In terms of the painting itself, were you influenced in the course of your creative work by any particular artist or artwork?


LCH: At the time, my level was quite limited. I didn’t really think in too much detail about artistic treatment. All I wanted to do was to paint the image of Chairman Mao as he appeared in the hearts of hundreds of millions people, for whom he was a symbol of hope. I thought that a single figure would have more prominence. Also, if there were too many figures, the arrangement would be more problematic. When Chairman Mao was a young man, he wrote a poem that has the kind of expressive atmosphere I was trying to capture:

 

Here we were, students all, in the bloom of our lives, 

Filled with student enthusiasm, boldly casting all restraints aside

Pointing to the mountains and rivers of our nation, impassioning the people with our words 


The hopes of the masses and the spirit of Mao Zedong at that time were what I was seeking to express in my artwork.



ZST: Did you refer to historical Soviet revolutionary paintings during your creative proceess?


LCH: I wasn’t a professional student of oil painting, but I quite liked the special features of oil painting materials. Still, I had never painted a large-scale work before. I considered this exhibition to be historical in nature. This painting would be for the viewing of the masses, so in the execution the focus shouldn’t be on artistry but rather on making it as realistic as possible. The Soviet artist Serov  painted a series of works featuring Lenin, and his technique was extermely realistic. For example, in the painting Lenin Meets the Peasant Representatives [sic], even the fabric of the sofa is painted in minute detail. This treatment makes the sense of historical occasion more real and believable. [Serov’s] painting was a great inspiration to me, and although my techniqe was not as developed as his, I also was seeking to create a style that the masses could relate to and that was historically credible. Chairman Mao said that we “must create works in a Chinese spirit and a Chinese style that the people will take pleasure in seeing and hearing.” 


ZST: People commented that this work as departing from the usual compositional format of other oil paintings. Chairman Mao’s placement in the center of the painting caused some people to associate it with western religious paintings and icons. In your creative process, did you ever have the intention of giving Chairman Mao an air of sanctity?



LCH: I never considered painting from a religious perspective. I simply wanted to depict Chairman Mao in an imposing way. And so I used a somewhat lower perspective and placed the Chairman in the center of the compostion. But I certainly never intended to give him a halo or to make him appear as a god. Some time later, some friends told me that the reason the masses liked this painting so much was because there was a natural landscape of mountains and rivers, and the color tonality was on the cool side, so that it was very pleasant and comfortable to look at.


ZST: Perhaps the reverent attitude you had while you were creating this work was similar to the reverence felt by painters of religious art. 


LCH: I think that’s really true. I even heard a rumor that the Vatican had hung a copy of Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan inside a church. When someone asked them why, they said: “Chairman Mao was one of human history’s geat preachers.” But as this was hearsay, I don’t know if is true or not. 


ZST: In the Bible, there is a passage that bears a certain similarity [to this image]; Jesus comes out of the wilderness and walks toward the expectant faithful. A number of artists painted works on this theme. In the past, had you seen any western religious paintings, such as those of Raphael for example?


LCH: I am really very ignorant about religion. I had seen a few paintings, but had no understanding of their religious background.


ZST: Previously, at the Academy of Arts and Crafts, had you studied western art history and Rennaissance-period art?


LCH: Yes, my teacher in this subject was Mr. Wu Dazhi. But he always discussed the work purely from a design point of view, and he also was very focused on modern art. It wasn’t until I took a trip to Europe last year and visited the art museums there that my eyes were really opened. 


ZST: Although Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan was very well received by audiences at the exhibition, it wasn’t until July 1, 1968, when it was published in the People’s Daily, that it became famous nationwide. At that time, this painting was elevated to the status of “model painting.” Did you have any inkling that such a thing might happen? What was your reaction at the time? 


LCH: First of all, let’s look at the process behind all this. There are three reasons this painting was published and widely circulated: first, the audience requested it; second, it was good publicity for the exhibiton; third, Jiang Qing had commented on the painting. There’s no denying that during that time Jiang Qing’s opinion was very important. 


ZST: Did Jiang Qing come to see the exhibition?


LCH: No. Actually, the whole thing came about through happenstance. A professor from the Printmaking Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Yang Xianrang, had an artwork in the exhibition. His younger sister worked at the offices of People’s Pictorial. One day he phoned her there but she wasn’t in, and the call was answered by the leader of the People’s Pictorial Rebel Faction. They all knew each other quite well, and in the course of the conversation [Professor Yang] mentioned that there was a painting in the exhibition that was really popular with the audience. Subsequently, that leader assigned a reporter, Qian Hao, to go and take a look. When he saw the painting, he was favorably impressed. At noontime he went back to the office to make his report, and the same afternoon a People’s Pictorial photographer came to the Museum of the Revolution and shot a large-scale color photograph of the work. At the time, People’s Pictorial was under the direct supervision of the Central [Committee] Cultural Revolution Group, and so a report on the photograph was sent to [the group]. The higher-ups said to first print it and then they would decide [whether to approve it for publication]. So, immediately a color proof was made, but the image was reversed by mistake, and so it had to be done all over again. I heard that after Jiang Qing saw the proof she gave the following directive: “It’s quite good. It can be printed and circulated.” That was around March 1968. . 

    At the time, the May issue had already been published, so it was decided to print the image on separate flyers and insert them into the magazine. When the [editors at] People’s Fine Arts Press (Renmin Meishu Chubanshe) heard about Jiang Qing’s directive, they also wanted to issue individual prints of the work. So this was the course of events behind its first publication. Later, just before July 1 of the same year, Jiang Qing wanted to encourage the flourishing of literature and art—in today’s slang we would say “stir things up”—and she chose this painting. According to reports, she wrote a letter [about the painting] to Premier  Zhou [Enlai], Kang Sheng, and Chen Boda. They all agreed. So, on July 1 it was published in the People’s Daily, and became a kind of commemorative gift. This was completely beyond my expectation.


ZST: When did you first find out about Jiang Qing’s directive?


LCH: I was told about it when I went to People’s Pictorial to look at the proofs. The original title [of my painting] was Chairman Mao’s First Visit to Anyuan. The title Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan was given [to it] by Qian Hao. When[the proof] was sent for review, the higher-ups found no problems with it. But on June 30, while they were doing the print run, it was discovered that the artist’s name had been written incorrectly: instead of Liu Chenghua it now read Liu Chunhua. Right away, a group of older men in uniform came hurrying to find me. They said that hundreds of thousands of copies had already been printed and it would be a huge problem to reprint. They asked me what I thought. I told them not to be wasteful, that “it doesn’t matter if one is called by different names..” When they heard me say this, they were extremely happy; every one of them shook hands with me. It was a rather unfortuitous turn of events, but I went along with it and have been using this girlie-sounding name ever since. 


ZST: The first time it was published, in the May issue of People’s Pictorial, was the painter’s name given?


LCH: No. The second time, the credit read “Created by the Student Group of the Beijing Academies and unversities, executed by Liu Chunhua et al.”

   

ZST: Documents record that on May 19, 1968, Jiang Qing had a meeting with the leader of the Zhejiang Rebel Faction, Zhang Yongsheng, and she expressly discussed Chairman Mao Geos to Anyuan. She said she thought this was “an exceptionally good” work, “that really captures the spirit of Chairman Mao.” When Zhang returned to Hangzhou, he immediately acted according to Jiang Qing’s directive and organized a theory group to write essays introducing Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan.


LCH: I read something about this in a tabloid. I heard that Zhang was a student at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts and also the deputy director of the Zhejiang Revolutionary Committee. At that time, he brought a group of paintings to Beijing. But I never met him.


ZST: How would you evaluate Chinese revolutionary art, or art that expresses revolutionary themes, and its place in the history of Chinese art? Some consider that these are only forms of political propaganda; others believe them to be masterpieces of twentieth-century Chinese art. What is your view on this?


LCH: I haven’t really given this question much thought. People of later generations will have different evaluations, but the facts of history will remain the same. From the time the Communist Party assumed political power and established the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of Chairman Mao and other Party leaders creative work in literature and the arts was carried out according to the proletarian revolutionary line; over the decades a large number of such works were produced. I don’t think these works can be overlooked or disavowed. They are the expressions of the sincere emotions of the artists who worked during those years and under those historical conditions. At the same time, regardless of whether we are talking about them as a reflection of history or of real life, what they express are facts. Of course, those works that are able to stand the test of history must be sincere, regardless of whether their style is traditional or modern, realist or abstract. What value a work of art has in the long flow of history is not something I can judge. But if it has character, if it has its own unique charactistics, if it has had an impact, then it is certainly exceptional and worthy of praise. 


ZST: Certainly there were artists who were very sincere in their belief in and reverence for party leaders. But the Great Cultural Revolutionperiod was an abnormality. From national leaders to ordinary citizens, large numbers of individuals and families were subjected to oppression and torture. From this angle, the so-called Cultural Revolution can be counted as a dark age in the history of twentieth-century China. So, how should we treat the works of that period that serve to extol and eulogize [it]? Where does their value lie?


LCH: This is an extremely sensitive question. In reality, the Great Cultural Revolutionwas a political struggle. The history of political struggles is always a case of “either you or me.” Today, the Cultural Revolution is considered to have been a catastrophe. Many people suffered great injustice, many families were destroyed; it was truly a tragedy. When I was on a research trip in North America, I met a third-year secondary school student in Canada whose grandmother lived in Taiwan. During the Cultural Revolution, his family’s home had been ransacked countless times. One can only imagine the hardship and suffering his family went through. After the period of reform and opening [to the West], his grandmother paid for him to study in the United States.{AU: But above it says Canada. Please clarify.} 

ZST: He studied in US, then  moved to Canada.}During my meeting with him, I very spontaneously expressed my deep sense of regret. I said to him, “Mao Zedong allowed these crimes to be committed against you.” But he didn’t think of it in that way. He said to me, “It wasn’t Mao Zedong who made us suffer, it was the people whom Mao Zedong against  made us suffer..” So we can see that any historical phenomenon is extremely complicated. Looking at the history of the proletarian revolution from a sociological perspective, whether it [the Cultural Revolution] has furthered the interests of the proletariat is a question I believe will need be evaluated through future dicussion of the history of the Cultural Revolution.

 

ZST: Apart from the historical position of revolutionary art, how would you evaluate its influence in terms of contemporary cultural development?


LCH: It has had a definite impact. There is a continuity to social development that cannot be broken. A particular path of literature and art is developed over many decades, and artists’ thinking is transmitted to the next generations. Global cultural development also has this kind of synchronicity. We can see an example of this in the method of realism; because it reflects and expresses real life, [realism] has captured the interest of many artists, and the works they have created have had wide audience appeal. This is not something that can be changed by some kind of simple executive order. 


ZST: Has contemporary Chinese art inherited the legacy of revolutionary art? 


LCH: Yes. At least a segment of it has. This can be seen, for example, in [contemporary] artworks that reflect real life, like the “Wounded Art” paintings and Luo Zhongli’s Father (Fuqin). There are many paintings of this type, and for the most part they have been very well received by the masses.


ZST: A number of contemporary artists also use visual symbols derived from Cultural Revolution art, such as the image of Mao Zedong. Some of these artists grew up during the Cultural Revolution. As a result, the interest of many Westerners in Chinese contemporary art has also aroused their interest in researching its background history.


LCH: That’s true. Visual symbols of the Cultural Revolution are a kind of new fashion. But there is a big difference in the nature of their content. Some paintings are satirical, and [the similarities are] limited to a stylistic level. 


ZST: For you as an artist, this unprecedented period of struggle thrust you into a very unusual position and has left indelible marks both on your personal life and on history. This is also the reason why today people still talk about the painting Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan and are interested in understanding the processes by which you created this work. Thank you for agreeing to [participate in] this interview.


Quanfa Huayuan, Beijing

May 27, 2007 

shengtian zheng © 2014