The Beauty of Art through Silence

December 11, 2012

The art displayed in this post comes from deaf artists, who are graduates of the Shandong Provincial Rehabilitation and Career School, an institute in China that trains young Chinese with disabilities.

 

In 1949, Mao Zedong launched the People’s Republic of China and ruled with an iron fist for almost three decades.

During Mao’s time, there was almost no free artistic expression in China unless the art served the propaganda needs of the state. But today, that has changed.

Zhang Guoli, Sons

After Deng Xiaoping opened China to a global market economy, the post Mao generation was introduced to Western art and theory.


Huang Jinpo, Earth

It wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that art from China started to emerge.


This is the dormitory where the artists live.

The photos in this post are presented with permission from “Embracing the Uncarved Wood, Sculptural Reliefs from Shandong, China“, which was made possible by a generous grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and with assistance from the Office of the Provost of Franklin & Marshall College. ISBN: 978-0-910626-04-0

Discover Chinese Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine SagaWhen you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


China’s Cezanne

October 15, 2012

If our brains work, we all live and learn daily.

This morning I awoke to discover two books printed in Mandarin, not English, that had been tossed on the floor. It seems my wife read both books in one night and didn’t get much sleep. She reads much faster in Mandarin than in English and can polish off books as if she were eating cookies.

When I asked about the two books, it turned out that one of the books was the biography of Wu Guanzhong (1919 – 2010), the father of Chinese Expressionism. This was the first I’d heard of him.

I learned he is considered the Chinese Cezanne. In fact, he is one of the fathers of expressionism.

Wu was born in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, China. He was a graduate of the National Art College in 1942, and then studied oil painting in Paris from 1947-1950.

When Wu returned to China in 1950, he taught Western art to his students at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing to 1953. He then taught art at Tsinghua University in Beijing 1953 – 1964.

Due to criticism that Wu had been influenced by Western Bourgeois ideas, in 1966, during the beginning of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Wu was told he could not paint or write about art. To avoid persecution and possibly execution by the rampaging teenage Red Guard, he burned many of his paintings.

In 1970, he was separated from his wife and spent three years working at hard labor in the countryside as part of Mao’s re-education program.

After Mao died in 1976 with China now led by Deng Xiaoping, Wu was allowed to paint again. He had his first professional solo exhibition in 1979, and succeed as a professional artist in the 1980s.

His painting of Shakespeare’s hometown was listed to sell for
RMB: 2 million ($US 318,878) – 2.5 million ($US 398,597).

During his life as an art teacher and a professional artist, his goal was to introduce French modernism to the Chinese world of art while preserving China’s cultural identity.

Wu combined his French training and Chinese background to develop a semiabstract style to depict scenes from the Chinese landscape. Before he died, Wu had solo exhibitions in major art galleries and museums around the world, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei, Korea, England and the US.

In 1992, Wu was honored by the French Ministry of Culture. He died at age 90. You may see a sample of his art from the embedded video.

Discover Silence to Beauty

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Taoism and Religion in Communist China – Part 3/3

March 29, 2012

Until Communism arrived, religion and the state were often closely linked. In the imperial era, the emperor was regarded as divine; political institutions were believed to be part of the cosmic order; and Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism were incorporated in different ways into political systems and social organizations.

U.S. History.org says, “Taoism and Confucianism have lived together in China for well over 2,000 years. Confucianism deals with social matters, while Taoism concerns itself with the search for meaning. They share common beliefs about man, society, and the universe, although these notions were around long before either philosophy.”

During the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), the teenage Red Guard did not discriminate against particular religions — they were against them all. They ripped crosses from church steeples, forced Catholic priests into labor camps, tortured Buddhist monks in Tibet and turned Muslim schools into pig slaughterhouses. Taoists, Buddhists and Confucians were singled out as vestiges of the Old China and forced to change or else…

However, under Deng Xiaoping, in 1978, the ban on religious teaching was lifted. In fact, since the mid-1980s there has been a massive program to rebuild Buddhist and Taoist temples.

Then in December 2004, China’s government in Beijing announced new rules that guaranteed religious beliefs as a human right.

According to an article in The People’s Daily: “As China has more than 100 million people believing in religion, so the protection of religious freedom is important in safeguarding people’s interests and respecting and protecting human rights.”

In March 2005, religion was enshrined in China as a basic right of all citizens. Even so, worship outside designated religion remains forbidden. Source: Facts and Details – Religion in China

There are five religions recognized by the state, namely Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. There are also a few Jewish Synagogues: two in Beijing, two in Shanghai, and five in Hong Kong.

Return to Taoism – Part 2 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

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Chinese Women in Science & Business

February 14, 2012

Business Week.com says, “Women now hold 34 percent of senior management roles in China, excluding Hong Kong, up from 31 percent in 2009, according to a 2011 Grant Thornton International Business Report, a survey of global companies.”


Tianjin Women’s Business Incubator (China)

The Harvard Business Review says, “In the decades since Deng Xiaoping instituted market reform, millions of women have profitably followed Deng’s dictate that “to get rich is glorious.” Half of the 14 billionaires on Forbes magazine’s 2010 list of the world’s richest self-made women are from mainland China… Backing them up are legions of qualified and ambitious women who, increasingly, are the engines powering China’s economic juggernaut.”

However, in the Western media, I often read or hear about sex slaves and prostitution in China, which is an example of Yellow Journalism at its worst. Seldom do we hear about China’s women in business and the sciences.


Professor Vivian Wing-Way Yam from China – 2011 Laureate for Asia and Pacific

What we should hear about from the Western media but often do not are stories about women like Dr. Zhang Yanxuan, an innovative scientist, who started a successful business in China to destroy mites that eat food crops. With twenty-seven years of scientific knowledge and government support, she raises predatory mites, a biologically safe method to kill the mites that eat crops. Her products are also being exported to other countries.


RSC Council member Professor Helen Fielding introduces leading Indian and Chinese scientists who talk about their inspiration and give advice to women starting out in science

China is currently the world’s leading pesticide user allowing chemical companies to make hefty profits while poisoning the environment and the people. However, Dr. Yanxuan’s predatory mites may replace pesticides as China’s government is becoming greener in their thinking.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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History Counts – Part 2/2

October 14, 2011

Under Deng Xiaoping, the People’s Republic of China announced a policy of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

John Gittings in The Changing Face of China quoted Deng Xiaoping as saying, “Planning and market forces are not the essential difference between socialism and capitalism. A planned economy is not the definition of socialism, because there is planning under capitalism; the market economy happens under socialism, too. Planning and market forces are both ways of controlling economic activity.”

Soon after Mao died in 1976, Deng Xiaoping’s Beijing Spring was introduced. This was a brief period lasting from 1977 into 1978, and during that time, the public was allowed greater freedom to criticize the government, which wasn’t allowed under Mao.

An example of this may be seen in “The Awakening” (Su-Xing), a movie produced during this period starring Joan Chen (Chen-Chung) and Gau Fei. [ISBN: 978-7-88611-603-2]. There are no English subtitles so it helps to have someone that reads or speaks Mandarin watch the movie with you that can point out the subtle criticisms of the Party that appear in the film, which was considered controversial at that time.

There was also a new Beijing Spring between 1997 to November 1998 where the Chinese government relaxed some control over political expression and organization.

It was during this time that China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is a permanent international criminal court, founded in 2002 by the Rome Statute to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”, especially when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

However, on May 2, 2002 the United States stated that it did not intend to be bound by its signature to the ICC and that is has no intention to ratify it. President Clinton signed the ICC, but President G. W. Bush and the Republican-led Senate refused to ratify it.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place from 1973 through 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

The United States is one of seventeen countries that have signed but not ratified the UNCLOS. North Korea is also one of the seventeen countries that have not ratified this UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, China has signed and ratified it.

On December 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was the most comprehensive and detailed international agreement seeking the advancement of women.… The United States is the only industrialized country that has not ratified the treaty, putting the US in the company of countries such as Sudan, Iran and Somalia.


Slavery is not a thing of the past, as WFOR’s Jennifer Santiago discovered on a visit to West Africa. Over a million children are trafficked in the country of Benin alone. (CBS News)

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the UN in 1989, and is one of the most widely received conventions. The CRC has been accepted by 192 countries. The U.S. may soon be the only country in the world not to ratify the CRC.

Five years after the 1992 founding of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, over 143 countries met in Ottawa, Canada and signed a ban on anti-personnel mines. The United States has still not signed the treaty.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol legally bound industrialized countries by 2010 to reduce their collective emissions of six greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to 1990 levels. One hundred forty-one (141) countries have signed the treaty, but the United States (the largest producer of greenhouse gases) has not.

There are more human rights treaties the US has not signed, and you may find this list at Feminist Majority.org.

In fact, No key human rights treaty has been ratified by the United States under the guidelines by which it was adopted and enforced by the UN General Assembly.

However, when there are alleged and unproven human rights violations in countries such as China, the US media is the first to accuse and complain causing an uproar of anger in America.

Do you believe history counts or do we ignore the past starting with yesterday? If you answer yes, shouldn’t other countries and/or cultures get the same privilege?

Return to History Counts – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.

 

Note: This revised and edited post first appeared in February 2010 as An American Genocide, An American Shadow Over the Philippines, In a Dark Mirror Without Reflection, and After Mao.


The Before and After of Vin Chengzong

September 19, 2011

My goal with this Blog is to remove the western-Sinophobe stereotype of Communist China and the Chinese, which is why I post on such a diverse variety of topics from history, to music, the arts, politics, current events and occasionally on an individual such as Vin Chengzon.

Vin Chengzong (born 1941) is another example that reveals where China has been and where it is today.

To some, he is considered the Court Pianist to the Cultural Revolution.

Most in the West do not know that music was an important part of the new art, which Cultural Revolution leaders proposed to replace the old music.

Although European classics were banned, Yin managed to create music that was highly Western in its technique, harmonic structure, instrumentation, and emphasis on choral singing. While the piano became an example of the bourgeoisie (the capitalist corruption of Western culture) and was in danger of vanishing from China, Yin transformed the piano from a target of the revolution into a positive symbol of radical change in Chinese culture. Source: Google Books

To accomplish this during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) when all Western art and music were forbidden, Yin ingeniously created the piano-accompanied version of The Legend of the Red Lantern, one of the Eight model plays, the only plays, operas and ballets permitted during the period.

Yin and other members of a special committee arranged this work in 1969 based on the Yellow River Cantata by Xian Xinghai. In the final movement of the concerto, Yin incorporated the melody The East Is Red. The instruments used, the piano and the orchestra, were all Western, but the music was heavily influenced by Chinese folk melodies.

Considered one of the world’s leading pianists, Yin was born on China’s “Piano Island” of Gulangyu in Xiamen, Fujian Province. He gave his first recital at age nine. Three years later, he entered the pre-college of the Shanghai Conservatory, and then transferred to the Central Conservatory in Beijing.

In 1983, following difficulties with the new government that came to power after Mao died, due to his alleged closeness to the Gang of Four, Yin immigrated to the US, where he made his debut in Carnegie Hall. Since then, he has performed for audiences around the world.

In fact, his solo performances have been featured on China Central Television and CBS Sunday Morning.

In 2010, Yin toured China for a ten-city tour with the Portuguese Chamber Orchestra celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Yellow River Concerto.

Formerly a professor and artist-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Yin now lives in New York City.

You’ve Come a Long Ways, Babe is another example of an individual bringing about positive changes in China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Waking the Unconscious Demon Within

August 21, 2011

Recently, I wrote a post about Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), and provided “overwhelming” evidence that Mao may have suffered from CPTSD. The reason I first thought of this is that I have lived with PTSD since I served in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. I am no stranger to this malady, and I know I am capable of barbaric behavior under the right circumstances.

Now, more evidence suggests that this demon becomes more difficult to manage as we age.

PTSD Forum had a post about the Dragon Brain – The Dark Side of the Lizard Brain, which along with a study at Stanford forty years ago may offer more insight of how Mao, starting out as a young sensitive poet and activist for the poor, was responsible for decisions later in his life that led to the failed Great Leap Forward then The Cultural Revolution.

The PTSD Forum says, “The down side (of PTSD) is a tendency to be more critical … to sense a threat where none may exist, or to sense a bigger threat than actually appears.”

Anxiety Insights.info says,” Post-traumatic stress, a condition that can cause patients to feel physical pain on remembering a traumatic event, is known to have a number of effects on the mind and body.”

In addition, PTSD may get worse as we grow older. In a comment on Veterans Benefits Network, Patrick428 says, “As we grow older there is a tendency to have less control of our frustrations and we anger more easily… This is why I say PTSD is much more problematic at an older age than was at a younger age.”

I suspect there may be a link between PTSD and a piece that I read in the July/August 2011 Stanford magazine — Six Days on the Dark Side -The Menace Within.

Forty years ago professor Phil Zimbardo (retired 2007) of Stanford’s psychology department conducted an experiment that was meant to run for twelve days but was stopped after six.  What the Stanford Prison Experiment (PSE) revealed was that ordinary college students were capable of doing terrible things under the right/wrong circumstances (like what happened at Abu Ghraib where Iraqi prisoners were abused and tortured by U.S. troops).

In fact, in the last decade, after the revelations of abuses committed by U.S. military and intelligence personal at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the SPE provided lessons in how good people placed in adverse conditions can act barbarically.

After Mao’s death and during Deng Xiaoping’s Beijing Spring, it was the collective consensus in China that Mao liberated China and was a good ruler 70% of the time. It may be difficult for many in the West to accept that Mao liberated most of the people of China from a worse life, but he did.

Now we may look back in hindsight and see that Mao was a product of his environment. He was not only the leader of the  People’s Republic of China, but he was also making decisions (mostly during the last decade of his life) influenced not only by CPTSD but also what SPE revealed about how good people placed in adverse conditions can act barbarically.

That does not make him a monster. It makes him the victim of an environment he had little control over at a young age, and if you want to discover what that environment was, I suggest reading Mao and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the links provided that reveals some of his life.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


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