Shen Jiawei

Art has a profound impact on how we understand culture, and is a powerful tool that   conveys to the audience an artist’s view on the world. The cultural frame in particular allows one to ….(add something here). Art from the turbulent times of the Chinese Cultural revolution is primarily propaganda art, promoting nationalist ideologies. Today, however, Chinese artists have a greater freedom which allows them to express their own ideas, opinions and views.

Cultural, historical and political matters form the inspirational basis of Shen Jiawei’s art-making, and his personal history greatly influences the style and subject matter of his art. Born in Shanghai, Shen’s education came to an abrupt halt as China   went into the Cultural Revolution. This was a violent chapter in China’s history, during which Shen and his friends had to prove their worth as Red Guards, supporting the regime of Mao Zedong. During the last years of the Cultural Revolution Shen became an official painter for the Chinese Communist Party, furthering the spread of communist ideology.

The revolution dominated life in China during the 70s and art strictly had to promote Mao, the heroism of the ordinary worker, and revolution. Shen’s development as an artist furthered after Mao’s death (which ended the Cultural Revolution), as the new open door policy allowed Shen to explore European art. Shen was then accepted into the Central academy of Fine Arts. Shen was free to make art which was not limited by the ideals of the communist party, and his interest in European art led him to paint a self portrait which broke Chinese conventions.   Often he combines elements of present and past history to challenge the typical perceptions of politics and culture, and reflect his thoughts on life and experiences in China. His highly realistic style of painting and accurate representations strengthen the irony and satire, which adds meaning to his work, highlighting his “fiercely critical vision of history.”...