Last week I attended the Asia Society in NYC. The current show is entitled “Art and China’s Revolution.” I was curious and openminded, but did not know what to expect. As a long-time member, I’ve grown to trust the Asia Society’s curators to always successfully mount wonderfully intriguing shows. This certainly was no exception—it blew me away.
The first thing that I thought of on opening the doors to the show was the incredible skill level of the painters. And almost immediately I thought of Greg Manchess, an artist who I have represented, admired, and become good friends with over the past years. Gregory, in my opinion, has a great facility of laying down a heavy brush stroke in a manner that I feel is similar to many of the artists represented in this show.
These artists worked under unbelievably dire conditions. The vast majority of the art was propagandistic in nature. But what you have to do is get past the subject matter and look at how brilliantly the artist painted these subjects. To me, that’s a lot harder than facing a blank canvas and doing what you want, when you want, and how you want.
If the communist authorities really understood how these artists were ‘getting away with murder,’ they’d probably have them thrown in a gulag. But because they were able to bring to the subject such a high level of skill, the authorities kept them working.
All of you who are going to be in New York City on or before January 11th, 2009—I recommend you spend a couple of hours at the Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Ave NY NY 10021.