Scar art

Scar art
A current of the late 1970s, Scar art represented a coming to terms with the calamitous consequences of Cultural Revolution fanaticism. Named after the short story ‘Scar’ (Shanghen, 1978) by Lu Xinhua, it shared many affinities with its literary namesake. One of the most outstanding works in the genre, the cartoon strip Maple (Feng, 1979) by Chen Yiming, Liu Yulian and Li Bin, was based on a short story—a tale of two young lovers whose lives are destroyed through supporting opposing Red Guard factions. Focusing on sentimentality and tragedy, such works avoided the accusations and vilification of Cultural Revolution art. They interpreted historical events through a humanist, emotional viewpoint, and were said to portray ‘emotional reality’ (qinggan xianshi). Some of the ambivalence of Scar art derived from artists’ own involvement in the Cultural Revolution.
A work such as Why? (Weishenmo, 1979) by Gao Xiaohua is full of self-reflection and mixed sentiments: pain and anguish over the past, confusion over the present, nostalgia for past certainties. A sub-genre, exemplified by Wang Hai’s Spring (Chun, 1979) and Wang Chuan’s Good Bye Little Road (Zaijianba, xiaolu, 1980), developed around the experience of urban youths ‘sent-down’ to the countryside (see xiafang, xiaxiang). He Duoling’s Awakened Spring (Chunfeng yijing suxing, 1982), influenced by the sentimental realism of Andrew Wyeth, is notable as an image of hope renewed. His Youth (Qingchun, 1984) won a bronze award at the Sixth National Art Exhibition.
See also: Scar literature
Galikowski, Maria (1998). Art and Politics in China 1949–1984. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 193–9.
Lü, Peng and Yi, Dan (1992). Zhongguo xiandai yishushi [A History of Modern Art in China], Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 22–9.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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