Thursday, September 09, 2010

Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Cori Huang
September 7, 2010
Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Last Thursday we visited the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre,
which is a small gallery exhibiting Chinese propaganda art from the
1940s onward. It was already an interesting trip before we entered the
gallery, since it is housed in the basement of a plain apartment
building. There were no signs outside to indicate the gallery's
existence, but as soon as we walked downstairs we saw every space on
every wall of the gallery was covered with art. The space was larger
than it seemed because of the way it was divided with many walls,
particularly the space in the back of the gallery, which was preceded
by a small hallway. With the posters displayed one after the other
though, it was easy to see the progression of political ideas that
spread in China, and with the director Yang Pei Ming to give us
historical information, we could really understand both the artistic
and political influences at work. What really struck me were the
Dazibao in the room furthest back. They were handwritten criticisms
by everyday Chinese people during the Cultural Revolution, and they
expressed the paranoia and fear that was rampant in the country at the
time. The words were written beautifully in black ink, but others had
drawn over them in bright red, denouncing the writers. I cannot begin
to imagine the emotions that these people felt writing the Dazibao,
but the posters are beautiful in a sort of scary way.

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