11 January 2014

Mao by day, the Madonna at night: Church welcomes Chinese religious artist to Frankfort


Excerpts:
nstead of becoming a famous mathematician like his father, a young He Qi was sent away from his home in the city of Nanjing, China, to the cold countryside to labor in the fields. The schools in China were also closed to curtail a rise in bourgeois values. This was during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a sociopolitical movement led by the country’s Communist leader Mao Zedong from 1966 to 1976 to reassert his power and reinforce ideological purity. The movement was violent, with an estimated 1.5 million people killed and others imprisoned, humiliated or tortured, according to history.com. To avoid the hard labor, He learned how to paint. A neighbor and art professor from Nanjing taught him the basics. He started by painting portraits of Mao. “The people worshiped the great leader Mao,” said He, who is now 60 years old. It was at this time that he first saw Raphael’s “Madonna and Child” printed in a magazine he borrowed from his art teacher. “It touched my heart,” he said. “It was so peaceful. In the daytime, I painted Mao and in the evenings I painted Madonna.”
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