#AusReadingMonth 2019 Madeleine O’ Dea
- Author: Madeleine O’Dea
- Title: The Phoenix Years
- Published: 2016
- Genre: non-fiction (Current Affairs & Politics)
- Trivia: 2017 Shortlist The Nib Award AU
- Trivia: 2017 Longlist The Walkley Book Award AU
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- #AWW2019 @AusWomenWriter
- #AUSReadingMonth 2019 @ BronasBooks
- Madeleine O’Dea is a journalist and foreign correspondent.
- She has been an eyewitness for over 30 years to the rise of China.
- She has witnessed the explosion of China’s contemporary art.
- Madeleine O’Dea tell us the personal stories
- of nine contemporary Chinese artists.
- The Phoenix Years shows how China’s rise unleashed creativity
- and sparked tensions between the individual and the state.
- The book reveals…
- the difficult compromises artists and others
- have to make …to be citizens in modern China.
- The artists in this book were reared in the post-Mao Zedong era.
- They are known to avoid the overly political themes of previous generations.
- They concentrate on merging classical Eastern modes of art-making
- …with contemporary issues.
What makes this book so unique?
- Ms. O’Dea explores how the
- …past weighed down on China
- …and what is happening now
- …in modern China (muscular government).
- But she does this while investigating the question:
- “Where were the artists in all this?
Strong point: I was introduced to many contemporary Chinese artists:
Huang Rui (1952) (plays a prominent role in this book)
- Huang experienced firsthand the Cultural Revolution (1966–76).
- As a teenager, he was sent from Beijing to Inner Mongolia
- to work on a farm under Mao Zedong’s reeducation campaign.
- Upon Mao’s death in 1976, which led to the end of the revolution,
- the political climate loosened and a wave of cultural ferment swept the nation.
- He experimented with Impressionist, Cubist and Fauvist styles.
- Stars (group of artists) disbanded in 1984, with several of its
- practitioners moving overseas.
- Huang, who married a Japanese woman the same year,
- then entered the first of two periods of self-exile in Japan.
- He didn’t return to Beijing to settle down permanently until 2002.
Cao Fei (1978)
- She Cao taps into popular culture and draws from
- classic arcade games to show how the notion of escapism.
- She was born in 1978 in Guangzhou on the
- Pearl River and the manufacturing center of China.
- She grew up absorbing the various influences
- that flooded her hometown and focused on
- creating art that examined China’s economic boom.
Guo Jian (1961)
- He migrated to Australia in 1992 working as a house painter, brickie.
- Today the National Gallery of Australis, GOMA and White Rabbit are among
- the Australian institutions that have collected his work.
- Guo Jian has been creating photographs he took in China on the piles of
- rubbish that are obliterating the landscape of his youth. (Rubbish Culture)
Zhang Xiaogang (1958)
- He is a Chinese symbolist and surrealist painter.
- He is famous with his Bloodline series, where mostly monochromatic,
- stylized portraits of Chinese people are presented as
- part of the artist’s exploration of the ‘family’ concept.
- He reconciles China’s choppy recent history in art
- …and is one of the most important painters working in China today.
- Here is a great link “Zhang Xiaogang explained in 5 paintings“
- Ms O’ Dea’s book combines information about
- Chinese economic transformation
- and what was happening in private lives.
- Core message: how closely intertwined process of artistic
- …and economic awakening were for China.
- I had difficulty following all the names
- mentioned until I discovered that at the
- end of the book is glossary of all artists.
- Look at their photographs b/c it is
- easier to follow if you can connect a name to a face.
- The book pivots in chapter 6!
- The narrative is more personal and
- we follow Ms O’Dea back to China in 1993.
- She shares what she feared she would find.
- This book was amazing.
- Once I discovered the structure of the narrative
- it was all smooth reading.
- Ms O’Dea introduces the artists in chapters 1-5
- and we meet them again 20 years
- later at the end of the book.
- Buckle up for a wonderful ride
- …through modern China that you don’t find on Wikipedia!
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