BAKALAR & PAINE GALLERIES
MASSACHUSETTS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
621 HUNTINGTON AVENUE
By Franklin W. Liu
“The visionary lies to himself; the liar only to others,” F.W. Nietzsche ominously wrote in “Human All too Human,” in 1878; fifteen years later, Mao Zedong was born in Shaoshan, Hunan Province, China.
Mao would live for 83 years, leav- ing a bloody genocidal legacy and now prompting a compelling, invidi- ous exhibition, “Chinese Dreams,” — a rhetorical title for certain — cur- rently on view at MassArt’s Bakalar & Paine Galleries.
“Chinese Dreams” is a collection of brave, artistic remonstrance of the “Cultural Revolution” — a decade-long, unrelenting hardship from 1966 to 1976 — imposed by Chairman Mao Zedong on ordinary citizens; the end result was millions of people suffering and countless dying tragically as a result of merci- less Communist Party persecutions. This was a shameful period in recent Chinese history; thus this heart- felt exhibition seeks to recall and address this vast, callous breach in human rights. As year 2016 also marked the 50th anniversary of this contemptible period, the pain still keens for those who lived through it.
Eight Chinese artists contributed to this seminal exhibition; their commonality is that all eight were victims of this period. At various ages — as children and as adolescents — they were all subjected to and endured prolonged painful, emotional and physical hardships, yet their resilience and steely will to survive now carry them forward to bear soulful witness to this inhumanity through their art.
A total of 21 artworks are presented, showing a refreshing range in diversity from painting, sculpture, photography, mixed-media art, porcelain relief sculpture and neon, along with video of performance/ installation pieces.