Jiang Zhaohe (1904-1986) 蒋兆和
poster, propaganda poster
scan, paper, colour
Jiang Zhaohe, Listening to Chairman Mao, 1953, (DACHS 2009 New New Year Prints), Heidelberg catalogue entry
Mao Zedong, Mao portrait, children, pine tree, Red Pioneers, Cultural Revolution, restriction, national style, guohua （国画), heroism, traditional Chinese painting style
Jiang Zhaohe: Listening to Chairman Mao (Ting Mao zhuxi de hua 听毛主席的话)
This 1953 poster by Jiang Zhaohe’s 蒋兆和 (1904-86) "Listening to Chairman Mao" 听毛主席的话 showing Mao, centrally positioned under a pine tree (the archetypal intellectual’s symbol which symbolizes longevity and steadfastness because it is a tree that stands up to the cold), surrounded by a group of Red Pioneer children, three girls and two boys, reading his lips, while he holds their hands and seems to talk to them warmly—would not be republished during the Cultural Revolution. Apart from perhaps not being sufficiently red, it presents a paradigmatic portrait of Mao, bright, shining, central, large, heroic and convincing, which would have been very much in line with Cultural Revolution propaganda policies, yet it was painted in “national style” which, at least during the first half of the Cultural Revolution was not welcomed.
Incidentally, not unlike Mao, Jiang had spent some time labouring at the Ming Tombs Reservoir in 1958 as well (Andrews 1994:211). He is generally considered one of the most important influences in the development of figure painting with traditional media, painting in ink on absorbent Chinese paper. He had continually defended the need for landscape and bird and flower painting next to history painting in the Anti-Rightist Campaign and would have been praised earlier, for using traditional techniques to “draw from life, scientifically” (Andrews 1994:127.140).