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Earthshaking and Ground-breaking: Caricatures by Liao Bingxiong in His Late Years

Release time:19-02-01

Preface
As a famous contemporary cartoonist in China, Liao Bingxiong (1915-2006) was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong while his ancestral home was Xiangzhou, Guangxi Province. In 1932, he began to publish comics and insisted on comic creation for more than 70 years. His works were mostly political and sarcastic comics. He was an outstanding thinker and humanist, who had a strong sense of social responsibility and mission. He was regarded as a "scavenger" and "cleaner" and had a firm belief in "wiping the world with his face." Expose and whip the false and ugly phenomena in social reality in various periods and promote justice and conscience. He once served as stage design for Guangdong Puppet Art Troupe and vice chairman of Guangdong Artists Association. In 2003, he was awarded the "Chinese Art Gold Color Award" and in 2004 he was awarded the "Modeling Art Achievement Award".
In 1976, the "Gang of Four" collapsed and during the celebration, Liao Bingxiu was half-awake. In May 1978, he read the article "Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth." He believed that this article "saved my soul", which freed the mind and restored the spirit of independent thinking. In December of the same year, with the convocation of the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, China began the historical process of reform and opening up. The reform and opening up have brought about a major turning point in China, and it also prompted Liao Bingxiong to review the previous roads and to show his attitude to past history through comics, exposing the nature and defects of society. Among them, Self Caricature was created in 1979 and had now become a cultural symbol of China's reform and opening up. In addition, the famous works of the same period include Record of Nightmare Group Cartoon. Later, he continued to create a large number of works including Tiger Killer or Cat Killer?, Half-awake, Braid Cutting etc. with extraordinary courage, and made a new interpretation of Self Caricature. With profound artistic reflections of absurdity, exaggeration, and humor, we profoundly rethought ourselves and the history before the reform and opening up, and profoundly revealed the social phenomena under various conflicts of social contradictions at the initial stage of reform and opening up, and we will make the ideological achievements of China’s reform and opening up with distinct features.
As we review the comics of Liao Bingxiong, we can see that the critical spirit of the artist is of positive significance for deepening reforms. Such in-depth thinking and sober understanding of the times, even today, can still bring people ideological revelation and emotional impact, and further strengthen people's understanding of the correctness and necessity of reform and opening up which is precisely the courage and strength our nation has to introspect ourselves.
Guangzhou Museum of Art
August 2018