Zhao Bandi (1963-) 赵半狄
scan, paper; original source: oil on canvas, 240 x 120 cm
China Avant-Garde 1994: China Avant-Garde, edited by Jochen Noth et al., Heidelberg: Brausdruck, 1994; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995:218.
世界 （from： 世界人民大团结万岁）
Mao Zedong, Mao portrait, Tian’anmen square, clouds, umbrella, Chinese avantgarde, youth, young people, gesture, sun, individualism
Zhao Bandi: Listen to me (Zhao Bandi: Ting wo shuo 赵半狄: 听我说)
Mao is quite apparently out of focus, simply disregarded, in a huge 1992 painting (2.4 metres high) by conceptual artist Zhao Bandi 赵半狄 (1963-). It shows two very thin and rather bizarre youngsters, he (the painter’s alter-ego) with naked upper body, black umbrella and almost transparent shorts, she (his girl-friend) with a white blouse and wide skirt, each walking away in opposite directions in dramatic yet bored gestures, right past Tian’anmen and Mao whose portrait is watching the scene from the side.
There are several signs to suggest a political reading of this image: the characteristic clouds above Tian’anmen are darkened; the painter is holding his umbrella in such a way as to suggest that he is saving himself from Mao, the scorching sun. Last but not least, the artist’s alter-ego holds the significant look out of the image toward the viewer, a privilege which is usually reserved to Mao.
All of these elements may help to explain the title of this image 听我说 “Listen to me.” It is Mao calling who has been pushed too far off, out of the lives of these eccentric individualists. They, however, still cannot do without him either and obviously, they must return, time and again, to his image.