Decoding the painting
The major part of the painting is about four naked or half naked women playing mahjong, in an unusual attitude. Beside them, on the right side of the painting, is a teenage girl, wearing a red embroidered halter-top and carrying a bowl of fruit in her right hand and a fruit knife in her left hand. On the wall, on the left side, hangs a portrait of a man: He is bald, sports a mustache and has an obvious mole on his chin. In the background, the sky is dark with black clouds.
Completed in 2005 and exhibited at a New York art fair the next year, this painting was soon posted on the Internet and raising heated discussions around China. Many netizens thought there were political messages in the painting. One interpretation that got a lot of support was that the painting refers to the Taiwan question - a tense topic at that time just like the dark sky.
According to analysis found on the Chinese online forum xici.net, the four mahjong-playing women represent the four powers influencing the Taiwan question - the US, Japan, Chinese mainland and Russia. More clothing means that the player has more strength, and the teenage girl is interpreted to be Taiwan.
The man in the portrait is thought to be a combination of three former influential leaders of China - Sun Yat-sun, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong - as the man carries each of the three leaders' symbolic facial features. This portrait is thought to mean the Taiwan question is an unsolved one within differing ideologies.
The middle one with a naked back is representing China. Even we can’t tell whether she’s winning or not, she has:
A good story teller
When asked whether he consciously puts political messages in his paintings, Liu said, he mostly does not do that with intention, but sometimes, his ideas may be influenced by some political issues.
"Also, when viewers interpret more political meanings [from my paintings], it means at that moment, they care a lot about the political issues," Liu said.
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