Li Shan - Contemporary Art Part II New York Friday, November 17, 2006 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Catalogue Essay

    Li Shan, a founding member of the Political Pop school of Chinese art, won international acclaim with his rouge-cheeked portraits of Mao. The portraits are both homage and parody: on the one hand, they are testament to Mao’s continuing power as a cultural icon. “The reason I talk about Mao as cultural motif is because after liberation (the creation of New China in 1949) his presence was felt in all aspects of life. Mao decided everything, from politics to culture. He was an extraordinary figure, full of beauty.” (Li Shan; K. Smith, Nine Lives, 2005, p. 241) However, the portraits also incorporate costume details from traditional Chinese opera in which men traditionally assumed female roles, explicitly highlighting cultural aspects of gender and sexuality that were explicitly condemned during Mao’s reign. The signature rouged cheeks of Li’s portraits are direct references to the face paint used in Chinese operatic makeup, as are the plucked eyebrows and lipsticked mouth featured in the present lot. Another of Li’s trademark motifs is his red and pink flora, as exemplified in the pink Pop flowers that decorate this lot, that represent the stylized expression of forbidden feminization and sexual politics.


Mao (Rouge Series)

Oil and paper collage on linen.
11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.6 cm).
Signed and dated in Chinese characters and signed and dated again "Li shan 2005" on the reverse.

$12,000 - 18,000 

Sold for $31,200

Contemporary Art Part II

17 Nov 2006, 10am & 2pm
New York