AAH-194 Visual Culture in Communist China

A Union College Art History Course, Spring 2023

Author: Nicholas Popeleski

Exhibition Theme

Feng Mengbo was born in Bejing, China 1966. The Cultural Revolution in China had just started in 1966 and did not end until 1976. Feng Mengbo’s childhood was heavily influenced by the Cultural Revolution. When the Cultural Revolution ended after Mao Zedong’s death on September 9th, 1976, there was no central authority. Feng graduated undergrad school during this era. He graduated “from the Design Department at the Beijing School of Arts and Crafts in 1985.” Because there was no central authority, there was a brief 13 year period was until the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Feng completed his master’s degree at the Printmaking Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1992, studying under artist Xu Bing.” One year after completing his master’s degree, Feng got his first computer. It was then that Feng started to create his now famous “digital media” art.

1993 was revolutionary because the worldwide web (www) had just come out as the first form of “internet” on computers around the world. Feng’s unique take on his media artwork was soon noticed by people around the world. This was because Feng revolutionized the world of video game art by playing the latest video games. He would draw inspirations from these video games, by putting himself and his own touch on each video game platform he drew. Video games were a “virtual reality” to Feng. He wanted to put himself in each video game he played, as if he were the main character. Most of his artworks came from the video games “Street Fighter” by Capcom and “Super Mario Brothers” by Nintendo. Of course, he drew himself in other video games as well but the video games with the most red in them were his biggest influence. This was because of the Cultural Revolution (China was already the People’s Republic of China and it was Communist, so the color red played an important role in Feng’s childhood). Most of Feng’s inspirations for choosing video games like Street Fighter for artwork are because the Cultural Revolution had a big impact on his life. He incorporated violence and the color red into is digital artworks to set a secret communist tone while still portraying the fun manipulation video games have on reality.

Feng’s earlier works will be used in my Exhibition, the artwork featured above being the most important.


Works Cited

“Feng Mengbo Biography, Artworks & Exhibitions.” Ocula the best in contemporary art icon. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://ocula.com/artists/feng-mengbo/.

Blogpost Interesting Link

The interesting link provided below is an interview that someone had with my artist, Feng Mengbo. They interviewed him in 2013 about a piece of technology that he owned. The point of the interview was to build off of how Feng’s love for video games and technological tools shows up in his artworks. The insight that this interview brings to my topic is how Feng’s love for technology from the beginning of his digital media art career all the way to the future plays an important role when it comes to the creativity and building of his new digital artworks. This is because each specific electronic he uses or video game he has or is playing appears in each artwork somehow. He gets his inspirations from each current electronic or video game that he has played at the time or is playing and is coming up with a new artwork.


Work Cited

“Feng Mengbo Biography, Artworks & Exhibitions.” Ocula the best in contemporary art icon. Accessed April 26, 2023. https://ocula.com/artists/feng-mengbo/. 

Feng Mengbo’s “The Long March” artwork from 2008 – Visual Analysis

The artwork I chose from the artist I wrote a biography on was Feng Mengbo’s art piece called “The Long March” from 2008. The size of this artwork is in the traditional Chinese life-size long scroll. Feng then used his style of art, which is media to come up with this piece of art. Given Feng’s love for media and video games, he put himself in a classic remake of a Super Mario Brothers-styled stage. You can tell by the graphics, use of characters, and media style that Feng was communicating the awesome adventures in the classic 1980s video game Super Mario Brothers by Nintendo, in his eyes. Feng’s use of media to create his artwork lead to a new revolution of artwork. Instead of using paint or ink, Feng used computer technology to create his works. Given some of his artworks were before modern software, most artworks were drawn by hand onto a computer-based platform that he could turn into art. These days, you could use photoshop to make it look like you made artwork online, but its not authentic like Feng’s work (which was authentic). Even though Feng grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976) in his later years when he started to become famous for his unique style of art, the idea of Mao Zedong and Communism did not come into play; nor did the traditional style of art interest Feng.




Image Source Link

Feng’s artwork “The Long March” from 2008

Feng Mengbo

Feng Mengbo, Street Fighter IV, 1996. Oil on canvas

Feng Mengbo was born in Beijing, China 1966. He graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, printmaking department in 1992. His artwork career began one year after graduation. Feng grew up during three historical movements in Chinese history: the People’s Republic of China was established, the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, and China’s involvement by opening themselves up to the global economy. At a first glance Feng’s work seemed to be nothing more than what looked like to be a painting of a screen shot; but actually was a painting of an extremely popular video game series known as Street Fighter. Feng is a media artist, who was featured in Metamorphosis of the Virtual 5 + 5, 5 French Artists and 5 Chinese artists; Feng being one of them. Feng’s artwork was very influential because he took iconic video games and put himself and his own characters into it. He created his own virtual reality with each piece of art he made. 


Works Cited

Eisman, April A. “eisman_playing With the Political.pdf.” 

Gaskin, Sam. “Feng Mengbo Biography, Artworks & Exhibitions.” Ocula the Best in Contemporary Art Icon., 20 July 2014, https://ocula.com/artists/feng-mengbo/.

Nicholas (Nico) Popeleski

Hello! my name is Nicholas but you can just call me Nico. To the left is my twin brother Bryce (I’m a triplet). For my major, I am still undeclared. I enjoy learning about different cultures and their forms of artwork. I am taking this course because I would like to learn more about Asia’s culture and artwork/artwork styles and methods. In my free time, I enjoy being around my family and pet dog Betty. I also like to hang out and play video games with my friends, shoot hoops with my father, and I’m an avid license plate collector.

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