Mao Lizi


Mao Lizi
(né Zhang Zhunli)
b. 1950, Shanxi
Oil painter
Mao Lizi is a partially self-taught painter and member of the ‘rusticated youth’ generation (see Cultural Revolution (education); xiafang, xiaxiang). He worked as a set designer for the Chinese Air Force and was a member of the Stars group. In the mid 1980s he attended a specialization course in oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, graduating in 1987. In 1990, he received a grant from the French government and was a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris.
Mao Lizi’s trademark images are hyper-realistic, blown-up details of apparently insignificant places magnified visually and metaphorically through the artistic process. In a 1976 triptych exhibited for the Stars exhibition—Hesitating, Ten Years of Chaos and New Life—he focuses on street details to reflect upon the dispiritedness that had washed over an entire generation at the end of the euphoric period of the Cultural Revolution. By depicting with photographic verisimilitude, respectively: a detail from a cement pavement marked by circular foot-steps and cigarette butts; a wall with washed-out slogans and children’s graffiti; and a wall where a new plant emerges from a crack, Mao captures the destruction of a whole era and the sense of loss suffered by its protagonists, questioning hopes for a new beginning. Selected exhibitions of Mao’s work include: ‘Stars’ in Beijing (1979 and 1980); the 5th National Exhibition in Beijing (1984); The Stars: Ten Years’ in Hong Kong and Taipei (1989); ‘Reckoning with the Past’ at the Fruit-market Gallery in Edinburgh (1996); ‘Chinese Contemporary Painting’ at the Hefner Gallery in New York (1987).
Andrews, Julia and Shen, Kuiyi (eds) (1998). A Century in Crisis (exhibition catalogue). New York: The Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, 237.
Cohen, Joan Lebold (1987). The New Chinese Painting, 1949–1986. New York: Harry N.Abrams.
Hui, Ching-shuen (ed.) (1989). The Stars: Ten Years (exhibition catalogue). Hong Kong: Hanart T Z Gallery, 2.
Lü, Peng and Yi, Dan (eds) (1992). Zhongguo xiandai yishushi 1979–1989 [A History of Modern Art in China, 1979–89]. Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 77.
FRANCESCA DAL LAGO

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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