Majestic Vistas: Selected Landscape Paintings from the Collection of the Art Museum, CUHK Online Lecture Series
Lecture III: “Fruitful Sites”: Mountain and the Artistic Portrayal of Its Political Economy in Mao’s China 

Speaker: Dr. Kathy Yim King MAK (Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese Culture, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
Date: Nov 7, 2022 (Mon)  
Time: 14:30 - 16:00 (HKT)  
Platform: ZOOM  
Medium: English  

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For a long time, mountain has long been portrayed as a site for articulating a wide range of beliefs––whether cosmological, religious, cultural or socio-political—in Chinese art. However, under Mao’s materialistic thinking and accelerated economic development, mountain, especially during and after the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), was largely depicted as a physical land that contained inexhaustible natural resources, of which human beings could exploit for supporting agricultural or industrial development. This lecture investigates how key painters of the era engaged with the state’s political narrative by portraying mountain as a exploitable, arable, or fruitful economic site. Ultimately, this lecture elucidates the conditions in which mountainscape, a category of Chinese socialist landscape, was reinvented by the state as a political instrument. By doing so, it examines how the new Chinese state prescribed or managed the ways in which the viewers reimagined their power relations with the lands portrayed. 

Speaker Bio:
Kathy Yim King MAK is an art historian specializing in the art of post-1949 Mainland China and Hong Kong. She currently serves as Assistant Professor at the Department of Chinese Culture and Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Prior to that, she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Mahindra Humanities Center. She received her PhD in Art History from UCLA, and MPhil in History of Chinese Art and BA in Fine Arts from CUHK.
Her research focuses on the production of Chinese socialist landscape in the art and visual culture of Mao’s China, with a particular attention to its role in reimagining the power relations between human beings and the natural environment in the context of the postwar nation building. In the meantime, she also examines the art of Hong Kong during the 1960s–1970s in the context of the global decolonialization, modernism, and the Cold War, with a special interest in the role of cross-mediality in sculpture, printmaking and mural for articulating a new postwar geo-political identity.

* The recording of this lecture will not be posted on any media platforms.

Other Lectures in the Series

“Fruitful Sites”: Mountain and the Artistic Portrayal of Its Political Economy in Mao’s China