2008 - Beijing

The following painting was done by the Toronto-based Chinese painter Liu Yi (刘溢).  This post comes from Migratory Fool.

Critical review in World Journal (Toronto), via the 搞搞震 blog:

[in translation]

Everybody knows that 2008 Beijing is where the Olympics will be.  Westerners call it the Olympic Games.  There is a game in this oil painting, but it is the traditional Chinese game of mahjong.

On the top left corner of "2008-Beijing," there is a standard head portrait of a man.  He seems familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.  He has Sun Yat-sen's beard, Chiang Kai-shek's bald head and Mao Zedong's facial features.  He symbolizes the one hundred years' of Chinese history and the sum total of the old and new democracies.

To the left of the painting, there is a innocent and focused girl who is probably celebrating because she has a good hand.

The girl in the middle with her back turned to the observer has three "east" tiles, symbolizing the unignorable reality -- the emergence of China.  But the girl is also trying to cheat with the tiles hidden behind her foot.

The girl in the middle facing the observer seems to be of mixed blood.  As she plays the games, she is looking at the source of the light (that is, the future).  She is nicely dressed, and she has a slightly worried look.

Then there is that foreign girl.  She is playing a Chinese game in which she has no confidence.  She is lying there, because she has one tile less than required.  She has lost already.

On the right hand side, there is a peasant girl who came to work in the city.  She is the fresh labor force that allowed China to rise.  On her face, there is a little bit of incomprehension and dissatisfaction.  She holds a shining fruit knife in her hand, indicating a resentment against wealthy people and a certain danger.

On the right of the painting, in front of the rundown building, there is a river and some rocks.  This symbolizes the uncertain future by which one can only cross the river by stepping on one rock at a time.

Comment in the  搞搞震 blog:

[in translation]

I feel that there is an additional meaning with the East player because the dice is rolled by that player.  This means that there are some unusual rules of the game.  Also, the tattoo on the shoulder indirectly indicates that it is important to assume the right seat at this table.  The little cheating move behind the back implies that the winner takes all in this game.

The girl on the left is concentrating hard to play this game.  She symbolizes those foreign capital companies which are trying to enter the Chinese market.  They don't understand Chinese conditions, so they are trying to be cautious and cooperative.  But since she is sitting over the East player and enjoys a natural advantage, the latter has to keep on good terms (open up to the outside).

The girl on the right is clearly being eliminated under the rules of the game.  According to the critic, she has no confidence left.  But you should note that one of her legs is touching the West player.  Why is that?  Returning home after being defeated?

The girl in the west is elegantly dressed and represents market resources.  She has a proper poise, which means that her hand is not bad.  But she seems to be disinterested and paying attention to things outside of the mahjong game.  She keeps peeking at the little girl on the side.  She is obviously paying attention to things outside of the market.

As for the girl on the side, she obviously has not yet learned how to play the capitalist game (mahjong) and she only owns farm produce and a fruit knife.  But she is longing for that game while keeping her distance.  Her looks is not only about resenting wealthy people, because there is also attention.  She is learning the rules.