There was this very intriguing oil painting that came out years ago in an art exhibit in New York called “beijing 2008.” The controversial piece dubbed as “Four Naked Women Playing Mahjong” was created by a Canada-based Chinese artist Liu Yi.
The painting has resulted to many debates on the interpretation – political and cultural. I wouldn’t assume as much but I would conclude though that the ladies in the picture indeed represents different cultures which are very evident in their features.
The aspects of nudity, position and posture is very much subject to historical reference which should recognize the political and cultural environment at the time the artist painted the picture. Notice the elements incorporated in the painting like mahjong, the type of clothing, the manner and level of nudity in each subject, the picture on the background, the tables and drapes, the fruit tray and the landscape.
Take note also of the title, it says four naked women but in reality there are five degrees of nudity depicted in the picture, however, the fifth subject is not included in the game of Mahjong and remains to be just a spectator. This picture really makes even a veteran in art appreciation think real hard.
In my opinion, this is one of the most compelling new art pieces of the new millennium.