The Origin of The Third Generation (I)

2011-11-08 10:26:56



Oil on Canvas  

Executed in 1984 

180 ¡Á 190 cm 

Signed He Duoling, Aixuan and dated 1984 

RMB: 14,000,000 ¡ª 18,000,000


At the beginning of the 1980¡¯s,  I was still living on the campus of Sichuan University. Early in the morning when I went to work I always saw the stream of students going to class. In front of the main school building stood the towering statue of Chairman Mao, his fingers pointing towards the East. At his feet however the masses, moving as waves, were spreading in all directions. Every day I could see a scene like this and I felt that it resembled very much to a painting. At that time it happened to be the beginning of the reform and opening policy in China, the old and the new were mixed; the situation felt just like a fallow garden which suddenly meets the spring season; western philosophy and influences were also about to set something off; nobody knew what the future would look like. I had graduated not too long ago, so the memory of the pure and sensitive atmosphere on the campus was still fresh in my mind. The Chinese intellectuals at that time ¨C if I may call myself one ¨C could roughly be divided into three groups: the generation which went to university in the 1950¡¯s and 60¡¯s, the generation of the Cultural Revolution and the students after the Cultural Revolution, namely us. With us the third generation began and I have always thought that we were lucky ones. The general experience of the first generation (my parents for example) could be summed up as chaos caused by war and political movements; that of the second generation were endless political movements. Born in our time, we witnessed changes and yet could refuse to be drawn into the matter, we became survivors and spectators, and were able to enjoy the results of the changes. Starting with us everyone was able to go their own way and our voices were made heard.

Such experience is the origin of ¡°The Third Generation¡±. At that time I was looking for fellow students who in my opinion could represent this particular generation, namely in terms of external and mental style as well as features, and serve as models.  The later development proved that I had a good foresight. Nowadays they all have become people of the hour of this generation, e.g. Liu Jiakun, Zhai Yongming, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhou Chunya etc.

I was happy to work together with Ai Xuan on this painting. Of the people in the front row I painted Liu Jiakun and Zhai Yongming. Zhang Xiaogang was painted by Ai Xuan.


He Duoling, 16.10.2006