“Whenever my childhood is erased, I succeed in recovering it.”

Born Qingdao, Shandong, 1962

Liu Dahong believes it is the duty of artists to make trouble and question the status quo. Needless to say, his admiration for “stirrers” is not shared by Chinese authorities. During the Cultural Revolution, they vilified artists as spies and counter-revolutionaries, accusing some of outright treason. In works based on the propaganda posters and comic books of the era, Liu Dahong mocks that willingness to see subversion under every bed. Scummy Dregs of the Old Society and Old Spies and Evil Henchmen (2011), which take their titles from real propaganda works, depict villains whose names echo those of well-known artists and poets engaged in such dastardly deeds as consorting with the Mafia and the Pope, gun-running, committing murder, and supporting the anticommunist leader Chiang Kai-Shek. “During the Cultural Revolution there was no justice or truth,” the artist says. That period is history now. In its place, there is a whole new attitude to art and creativity: “We could call it the new Cultural Revolution.”

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