Frost Art Museum's "East/West: Visually Speaking" Mixes Ronald McDonald and Mao
|Luo Brothers' Welcome the Famous Brands to China|
The traveling group show features works by a generation of artists who were born or came of age during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and have experienced an alternate vision of Mao's blueprint for China's great leap forward.
Seamlessly curated by Dr. Lee Gray, the sprawling exhibit includes close to 40 contemporary works by Cai Lei, Cang Xin, the Luo Brothers, Ma Baozhong, Shen Jingdong, Shi Liang, Sun Ping, Tang Zhigang, Zhang Hongtu, and Zhong Biao.
The artists on view have filtered the lexicon of American and European visual arts and represent a more democratic and multifaceted view of the real and imagined swaps underway between the world's two biggest superpowers. While some of the works reflect an adoring view of the West, others parody our values.
And not unlike the two classical statues symbolizing the soul's struggle for freedom, Ping's works also appear to be riffing on the temptation to sacrifice Eastern ideals for Western values. For Ping, the needles represent both healing and torture, as well as a way of warning his compatriots of invading forces while also attempting to heal adversaries.
But when it comes to delivering corporate America a smack in the snoot, it's the Luo Brothers who pull the fewest punches.These guys employ images of hamburgers, fries, Coca-Cola cans, and even Pizza Hut boxes in their image bank to communicate capitalist gluttony and Asia's addled consumption of Western culture.
Don't miss the painting of a horned Chairman Mao haloed by a Pizza Hut Meat Lover's pie as a team of wild, unbridled stallions gallops above him under the vault of Heaven. Or how about yet another opus that features the portrait of a leering Sly Stallone appearing alongside one of Red China's sober commies?
The trio's work is jaw-dropping -- like experiencing a notion of capitalism as theorized by the Marx Brothers rather than Karl -- and alone merits a visit to the museum. But hey, that's what you get after going batty from seeing the mugs of Colonel Sanders and Ronald McDonald suddenly given equal billing with Mao's sour puss all over Tiananmen Square.
Look for our extended review in this week's issue.
"East/West: Visually Speaking" is on view through September 11 at the Frost Art Museum (10975 SW 17th St., Miami). Call 305-348-2890 or visit thefrost.fiu.edu. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
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