I didn’t read the South China Morning Post on Saturday. Fortunately, Imagethief did… and turned up this:
It is a work by artist Liu Yuyi and his daughter, Liu Haomei, painted to mark the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. Measuring 7.1 meters by 2.8 meters, Halcyon Days Pearl is Hong Kong’s largest painting.
It depicts President Hu Jintao surrounded by a selection of Hong Kong’s great and good with Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang quite literally standing there as Hu’s right hand man. If SAR critics are looking for more "Beijing’s poodle" material to lob at Tsang, this could be it.
Liu said he wanted to include people of different political views, which explains the appearance of Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop of Hong Kong, Anson Chan, former chief secretary to the SAR, and Alan Leong, the Civic Party candidate who lost out to Tsang in March’s controlled election. Tycoons such as Li Ka-shing and Stanley Ho earn spots much closer to Hu.
According to the SCMP article, the background of the painting includes Mount Everest (presumably without a road running up the side) as a symbol of mainland China’s support for Hong Kong.
Imagethief makes two interesting comparisons: one to the iconic cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the other to Mao-era propaganda art.
Parallels are drawn between the positioning of Hu amongst the Hong Kong’s elite and Mao in his classic poses surrounded by the proletariat. Similarities can also been seen in the use of positive imagery.
My first thought was that this kind of iconography might be intended as ironic. Apparently not, it seems.
Imagethief’s closing remark is to ask what Hong Kong people might think of it (or where to hang it). I’d also be interested to find out what Beijing’s take on it is. When the official message for the handover anniversary is likely to be along the lines of social and cultural inclusiveness combined with mutual economic gain, it can’t be good PR to have someone drag up images that remind many Hong Kong people of what made them leave the mainland in the first place.
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