Chen Ziyun (1931-) 陈子云
painting, oil painting
scan paper, colour; original source: oil painting, colour
另類人生史 Ling-lei jen-sheng shih, (DACHS 2013 Continuous Revolution), Heidelberg catalogue entry
Mao Zedong, old man, Autumn Harvest Uprising, hero, peasants, countryside, young Mao
Chen Ziyun: Leading the Way (Chen Ziyun: Dai lu 陈子云: 带路)
Chen Ziyun’s 陈子云 (1931-) depiction of a young and scruffy Mao following an old man painted in 1959 is painted in an entirely different style, in oil. In the image, the old man, although much shorter than Mao, is clearly foregrounded, painted as the central focus of the image. He is Leading the Way 带路 as the picture is also entitled—ambiguously. He is moving confidently. His strong hands holding his stick are emphasized by the particular use of lighting, striding forward energetically, with his pants, straw hat and sandals. Mao, on the other hand, who follows him, looks quite worn and fatigued, wearing inappropriate shoes, holding up his cumbersome long gown. The scene depicts a moment just before the (disastrous) so-called “Autumn Harvest Uprising” 秋收起义 which Mao is said to have instigated in Hunan in 1927. A small army of peasants rebelled against the Nationalist Party and the Hunan landlords. It was defeated and Mao and his supporters forced to retreat to Jiangxi province and to Jinggangshan.
The image illustrates the closeness between Mao and the people: they are immediately willing to help him, as the narrative behind the image also explains: Mao took refuge with the old peasant who immediately took him on. The image thus shows Mao’s ability and his willingness to make the people the heroes of history and thus accords with Maoist logic, but it does not make a heroic figure of Mao himself.