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Picturing Power: Tian Taiquan’s Artistic Take On The Cultural Revolution
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Picturing Power: Tian Taiquan’s Artistic Take On The Cultural Revolution

Picture of Culture Trip
Updated: 27 January 2016
Chinese artist Tian Taiquan persistently returns to the iconography of the Cultural Revolution in his work, using unsettling juxtapositions to interrogate this momentous passage in Chinese history. To inaugurate its Third Floor Project, Singapore’s Art Plural Gallery presents new work by Tian Taiquan which will run from October 2 through November 3, 2013.
Totem Recollection No. 3
Totem Recollection No. 3 | © Art Plural Gallery

Born in Chongqing, China, Tian Taiquan, uses photography montage to powerfully convey the enduring wound felt by his country since the Cultural Revolution. His highly compelling photographs evoke violence, suffering, desperation and confusion through vivid and corporeal imagery.

‘The Cultural Revolution impressed me so much when I was a child, that it is the permanent inspiration of my creation. It needs to be explored constantly. I still remember the period when red flags and Dazibao were at everywhere on the street. The horrified violence in Chongqing was very famous in my motherland and became my fertile resources.’ – Tian Taiquan.

Totem Recollection No. 9
Totem Recollection No. 9 | © Art Plural Gallery

For the exhibition Art Plural Gallery displays 12 photo montages from Taiquan’s ‘Totem’ series, one of the artist’s most significant bodies of work. Each of the images shows a variation on the same subject: a woman is draped across a seemingly endless pile of red Mao buttons, dressed only in a green military suite with a glittering badge. At times the crimson buttons nearly swallow her entire body as though she is being consumed by the immense sea of propaganda. In other images her military jacket is ripped open to expose her nude flesh. Though almost sensual, her nudity is ultimately unsettling as she has been bound by thick ropes, alluding to the impossibility of escape from the party’s highly regimented path.

The Third Floor Project, named for its use of the gallery’s third floor exhibition space, is a contemporary art lab in which emerging talents are invited to present solo exhibitions in conjunction with artist talks, guided tours, events and publications. Completely separate from the normal gallery programme, the main objective of the project is to facilitate engagement between young collectors and up and coming artists to stimulate the growth of the next generation of art professionals and enthusiasts.

Totem Recollection No. 1
Totem Recollection No. 1 | © Art Plural Gallery