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Yue Minjun's Self-Portraits in Hong Kong

The image to the left, titled "Hat Series, Armed Forces, " displays red figures with grinning faces and military hats. It was made by Yue Minjun, an award-winning painter whose artworks have driven auction prices to the millions. Although this painting is in Hong Kong, Yue Minjun has a Beijing-based art style that he gets inspiration from. His artwork is an example of social art: portraying the government as laughing as they destroy the individuality in Hong Kong, the citizens, and the everyday life that they are used to. Previously, social art and propaganda were once the weapons of the Communists, but now, it is being used to speak up against them.

As a mainland Chinese-American citizen, I can't speak much about a topic that I'm not familiar with. All I know is the situation in Hong Kong, through one of my friends who had lived there. The experience was difficult- schools were shut down, and smoke covered the streets, making it difficult for them to go outside. There were massive protests, around 2020-2021 which made citizens scared to leave their residence.

Many people criticize Yue Minjun's artwork because they believe it mocks the Chinese military that is presented as strong. There is a restriction on media in China, and social artwork is next on their agenda. In one of my previous blog posts, I talked about the digital billboard in Hong Kong that was taken down. And yet, here again, we see another form of censorship.

There's a certain extent to how far the censorship will go, approaching even comedic jokes and lines, but from what we know now, it's difficult to speak out against the PLA and the military, even with social/political artwork.


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