Steve's China Blog

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The other day I was reading this interesting article I found about the people who paint the pictures of mao that hangs over the entrance of the Forbidden City across from Tiananmen Square...

It happens every year, under cover of darkness, in the waning days of September. The giant portrait of Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square — he of the Mona Lisa gaze, flushed cheeks and trademark gray suit — is spirited away and replaced by a new Mao. He looks just like the old Mao.

So little is known about the making (or rather, remaking) of this iconic image, it might as well have materialized out of thin air.

Except for the author's gushing descriptions of mao, and the part where he calls the mass murderer a great leader, it's a pretty good article. The article is really about the artists who have worked on the paintings for the last 57 years, the issues they have had to deal with over the decades, how they selected apprentices, and the work they do now. Since portraits of mao and other dead communist oppressors are not in that much demand anymore they do not have a lot of painters anymore.

A few days after reading this article I found this picture of Gene Simmons, of the rock band KISS, painting a picture of mao (which I shamelessy stole from Ryan's Blog):

This gave me an idea! Gene Simmons should be the next apprentice! Just imagine one morning all of the people in Beijing waking up to find a huge picture of mao, with KISS band face paint, and a huge mechanical tongue sticking out of it! Lick it up, Beijing rock city! Can we call him mao tse tongue?! Ok, ok... they would never go for it, but it is a funny idea.


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