An excellent story in the New York Times by Jimmy Wang addresses Chinese Contemporary artists the Gao brothers whose work often dwells on the figure of Chairman Mao long after Mao has lost meaning for many young people. But for the Gao brothers, whose father was murdered during the Cultural Revolution, the question becomes whether any expression is art or whether subtlety is required where authenticity is expressed:
In the increasingly open Chinese art world, nudity is commonplace where it used to be forbidden, and art parodying the Cultural Revolution has become so ubiquitous that it is passé. Still, the Gaos are a reminder that, especially as China celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Communist revolution, limits to expression remain: although artists are increasingly free to deal with social and political topics, works that explicitly criticize Chinese leaders or symbols of China are still out of bounds. […] The 798 Arts District has a local management office that, among other things, keeps an eye on art it deems unacceptable and detrimental to the district. “They receive pressure from above,” said Gao Yuewen, 29, a staff member at the Gao studio, who noted that the Gao brothers were “classified differently” from other artists by the authorities, meaning that they were suspect. […] For many older Chinese, Mao remains sacrosanct. But for a younger generation of Chinese, Mao, who died in 1976, feels increasingly irrelevant, and there is little shock value in the Gaos’ portrayals of him. In China’s larger, more cosmopolitan cities, remnants of Mao’s personality cult are less prevalent. Reciting phrases from Mao’s “Red Book” has long since been replaced by shopping for laptop computers, Mini Coopers and other “ming pai,” or famous brand-name consumer items.
In China, A Headless Mao is a Game of Cat and Mouse (New York Times)