Li Zongjin (1916-1977) 李宗津
painting, oil painting, propaganda poster
scan, paper, colour; original source: oil painting, colour
DACHS 2012 Continuous Revolution, Heidelberg catalogue entry
Red is the East, Li Zongjin, propaganda poster, Mao portrait, red sun, sunrise, landscape, mountain, leader, saviour
Li Zongjin: Red is the East (Li Zongjin: Dongfang hong 李宗津: 东方红)
In 1954, Li Zongjin 李宗津 (1916-1977), a Chinese painter specialized in oils, paints Red is the East 东方红, a large canvas, soon reproduced as a propaganda poster, which shows Mao on a mountain path, looking toward the east, with his hands calmly folded, overtowering a beautiful landscape opening up behind him: lush fields and, further in the background, a huge river with an imposing metal bridge crossing it and industrial chimneys rising into a sky which is faintly reddening on the right side of the image.
The colours of the rising sun are matched precisely in and seem to reach up toward Mao’s face. Mao appears in this image—which echoes rather perfectly a 1948 depiction of Stalin by Feodor Shurpin entitled Our Fatherland’s Morning—as a god-like figure: he is, indeed, the great saviour of China. Mao appears as the great ruler over a huge territory that is China, able to “cure all possible ills that might befall his country” 医治中国种种疑难病症 (Zhang 1994:59).
The title of the image, Red is the East alludes to a song which would quickly become the de facto national anthem of the Cultural Revolution and which emphasizes Mao’s position as the saviour of the Chinese people and the victories of the Communist Party. (See also DACHS Continuous Revolution).