CHINA IN THEIR HANDS

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Indy Lifestyle Online
When, on 1 July, amid seemingly endless pomp and ceremony, Hong Kong returned to the Peoples' Republic of China, much was made of the effects on the British community. Far less attention focused on the fate of the people of Hong Kong, or the current cultural climate in China.

Reckoning With The Past: Contemporary Chinese Painting at Manchester's Cornerhouse from today until 21 September will hopefully redress the balance, offering a comprehensive insight into current trends in art in China. Not surprisingly in a country with the largest population on earth, and the oldest and longest civilisation, the artistic outpourings from the Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong artists reflect a turbulent past with both horror and nostalgia and embrace a variety of styles. Pop art fuses with socialist academic style, traditional landscape with video arcade games. Inevitably, many of the pieces are political in a country where repression towards "unofficial" artists is still the norm.

Highlights include Yu Youhan's "Mao and His People: Green" (above right), and Feng Mengbo's startling dissection of the terror of Mao Zedong's Red Guards, which uses a violent computer game as its starting point. Meanwhile, Wang Xingwei's paintings feature the artist himself as the main character, acting out major events from Chinese history. In "The Road to Anyuan" he copies the most famous painting from The Cultural Revolution in which Chairman Mao is shown in a heroic pose setting off across the mountains to begin the revolution.

Manchester is your only chance to see the exhibition, curated by Chang Tsong-Zung in association with Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery, before it embarks on a European tour.

Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford St, Manchester (0161-228 2463) to 21 Sept

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