Visual Culture in Contemporary China: Paradigms and Shifts by Xiaobing Tang

By Xiaobing Tang

Exploring a wealth of pictures starting from woodblock prints to grease work, this superbly illustrated full-color research takes up key components of the visible tradition produced within the People's Republic of China from its founding in 1949 to the current day. In a problem to triumphing perceptions, Xiaobing Tang argues that modern chinese language visible tradition is just too complicated to be understood when it comes to an easy binary of presidency propaganda and dissident paintings, and that new methods has to be sought to provide an explanation for in addition to savor its a number of assets and enduring visions. Drawing on wealthy inventive, literary, and sociopolitical backgrounds, Tang provides a sequence of insightful readings of paradigmatic works in modern chinese language visible arts and cinema. Lucidly written and arranged to deal with provocative questions, this compelling research underscores the worldwide and old context of chinese language visible tradition and gives a well timed new viewpoint on our knowing of China at the present time.

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In addition to new forms of representation or expression, socialist culture also and often more urgently needed to create new modes and relationships of cultural production. An artist’s relationship to his work and to his audience, for instance, was reformulated so as to turn the artist into an active producer in the new society. Art itself, both as aesthetic experience and as a cultural institution, was also redefined through a historicist discourse that relegated artistic autonomy or aesthetic disinterestedness to outdated, pre-socialist systems and limitations.

Its extensive fault-finding against the art establishment in Beijing seemed to belie a deep unhappiness with central authority, while its vigilant questioning of interest in landscapes expressed a fundamentalist commitment to the revolutionary tradition, for which art was for political mobilization and agitation rather than aesthetic cultivation or appreciation. Such determined resistance to landscape painting was not unanticipated by Jiang Feng, who pointedly advised against a narrow-minded dismissal of the new genre.

The historical moment identified by the editorial was a monumental beginning. 27 To carry out this task effectively, “artists should themselves become citizens of the new epoch,” actively participating in 32 Visual Culture in Contemporary China the construction of New China. Only through such participatory experiences and with right self-positioning would an artist be able to achieve “correct and perceptive” depictions of reality, while avoiding “superficial, even distorting” representations. The emphasis was firmly placed on the artist embracing the dynamic process of nation-building and regarding art as part of the collective cause.

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