Interview of “Misty Masses and Merciless Mao” painting

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So why did you decide to paint a second time the June 4th “incident” as the Chinese government calls it?

tiananmen square crowd

I thought about what might have gone through the heads of the leaders rolling tanks over civilians as a way to restore order.  It was just insane that that happened while in Eastern Europe they threw off the shackles of Communist leadership.

Here you see that the square was full. This square is 109 acres and is the 4th largest city square in the world.  If this were farmland, it would take 109 ox to plow it all day long or 61 soccer fields.  In other words, the protest was a serious challenge to the leadership holding onto power.

What were the symbols of the citizen protest?

lady liberty lady liberty in tiananmen

Besides mourning a popular leader dying, which then led to protests about democracy, Lady Liberty was the symbol of the stomped out revolution.

Did any popular leaders side with the students?

ccp leader with crowd

Actually, a CCP leader tried to calm the situation down on the ground so there wouldn’t be a massacre.  He was later purged of the party in full dishonor for trying to avoid civilian bloodshed, but more for this one photograph.

Most of the leaders were teachers and other leaders close to the student body and aware of the popular protest such as Liu Xiaobo.  Liu spoke to the crowds and help disperse the public before the tanks rolled over the remaining students. He likely saved thousands from an all out massacre of large scale.  For this he was rewarded with prison time.  20 years later he was sent to prison again for writing a Bill of Rights for Chinese government reform called Charter 08.

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How does the CCP government like to portray the event?

Well the current wife of the Chinese appointed president Xi Jinping was in fact part of the “mop-up” tank brigade operation.  She sang to the “heros” of the square that ran over students fleeing for their lives.  This photo that was once published in a military magazine is now banned on Chinese internet.

xi wife at tiananment

Another thing they like to do is have multiple military parades now to show they still are in power.

tanks in tiananmen military in tiananmen military parades tiananmen

They need an all powerful image to sell to their citizens and outside world. No one believes it, but they think it sells.

ccp propaganda

They want to forget this ever happened…

victims 1989

What are the images in your painting?

I have military flags used in the Song dynasty era that spell out 1 9 8 9 with chinese poetry in the background. I thought it would call out the brutalness of the “popular” unelected regime and their mindset of power at all costs.

Are any works available? 

Check my shop at www.shawnshawn.co

 

Links:

Wikipedia

Wikipedia 1989

Google images

You Tube

History Channel

Time

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact

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Interview on “303 Signatures” Painting and Charter 08

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Why did you paint this massive piece?

I was attracted to the story of Liu Xiabo and the creation of Charter 08.  This goes back to the terrible tradegy of 1989 and how the Communist Chinese government decided to literally run over the unarmed civilian protesters with tanks rather than reform.  At the same time I had seen the peaceful transition of Poland from communism in 1989.

victims 1989solidarnosc

Why was Charter 08 written?

In the events of the 2008 Earthquakes and the scandals of collapsed children’s schools, people started to investigate the scandals of corrupt politicians and builders colluding for profit at the expanse of children’s death.  Ai Weiwei was one of the principal independent investigators into this tragedy.

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He created a massive display of backpacks construed into a mural.  The backpacks represented the 5000 children that perished in the earthquakes and shoddy schools. The mandarin in the work talks about the feelings of the mother of a victim.

backpacks

“She lived happily for seven years in this world”

How did the government react to Ai Weiwei’s investigation and show?

studio

Well, typical of the single-minded task of the CCP, they bull-dozed his $1 million studio in Beijing. They claimed he didn’t have a permit to the building code.  Its ironic that the CCP chose to actively destroy his studio while covering up their complicity in shoddy building destruction leading up to children’s deaths by mother nature.

How did other intellectuals respond to the Earthquake disaster?

charter08 charter081

Several writers gathered and produced the document called Charter 08.  This document was based on similar historical documents like the Bill of Rights and Charter 77.  Charter 77 was written by reformists in Communist Czechoslovakia that led eventually to the regime’s collapse in 1989. The Bill of Rights in the US was to balance the powers of the state, federal power and the individual.

charter77

Liu Xiabo was one of the principal writers and signers of the document.  Originally signed by 303 people and then presented to the CCP ruling party.  The document asked for the following reforms:

Amending the Constitution

Separation of Powers

Legislative democracy

Independent Judiciary

Public control of public servants

Guarantee of  Human Rights

Election of public officials

Abolition of Hukou System

Freedom of Association

Freedom of Assembly

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Religion

Civic Education

Free Markets and Private Property Protection

Financial and tax reform

Social Security

Protection of the envronment

A federated republic

Truth in reconciliation

Each of these 19 main points of the document are in the painting.  There are a total of 76 characters, which symbolically refers to the US liberation of 1776 as well.

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How did the Communist party respond?

They immediately rounded up Liu Xiabo and several signers.  Liu Xiabo was eventually sent to prison for “inciting subversion of state power” for 11 years.  So fearful are the authorities of these 19 points of written reform.

How did the world respond?

Liu Xiabo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.  All representatives of Liu were blocked from attending and accepting the award on his behalf.  Over 10,000 people have signed online the Charter 08 since the original 303 signed.

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Have other winners been blocked by their governments from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize?

Yes in 1935 Hitler kept Carl von Ossietzky in prison. In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was kept away by Burmese military government.  This gives you an idea of the type of government Chinese people live under.

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How long did it take to paint this work?

Yes, it took up to 6 weeks.  My wife almost had a heart attack saying, “it’s blocking all the light!” continually.  I started with the red layer representing the strong red of traditional Chinese painting and pot paintings.  Then I painted a gigantic 303 in gold.  Then I painted the whole thing in black and eventually formed abstract shaped over the painting.  My next stage was to cut out each of the red characters.  My final stage was to paint most of the 303 signatures, over 900 characters, around the entire frame of the painting.

Are there other symbols in the painting?

Yes, the characters line up into 8 rows and 10 columns. In China, the year 08 for the Olympics came to represent the pinacle of luck as known in chinese numerology.  The tragedy of the 08 Earthquakes wiped out the good PR from the Olympics to expose the political corruption under the surface.  This painting hopes to capture the meaning of Charter 08 and the hope of Chinese people to reform their government into a modern democracy with respect for human and individual rights.

Is this work available?

Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact