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Ha Qiongwen (哈琼文)

Ha Qiongwen Ha Qiongwen (1925-2012) was born in Beijing. He belonged to the Hui minority. After his graduation from the Fine Arts Department of the Chongqing Central University in 1949, he joined the People's Liberation Army. Ha taught in the Art Department of the East China People's Liberation Army Military University. In 1953, he moved to Beijing and worked in the Cultural Department of the PLA. In the same year, he visited the North Korean war theatre, where he spent time with the Railroad troops of the Chinese Volunteer Army.

In 1955, Ha was transferred to the Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House (Shanghai renmin meishu chubanshe 上海人民美术出版社). By the late 1950s, he and his Shanghai colleague Qian Daxin (钱大昕) were considered the most prolific designers of propaganda posters, producing some of the best remembered works. More than ten million copies of Ha's designs have been released. During the Cultural Revolution, Ha was attacked as the "Top Celebrity of the Literature and Arts Black Line".

Long live Chairman Mao, 1961

Long live Chairman Mao, 1961

The design reproduced here ('Long live Chairman Mao', from 1961) was at the root of Ha's problems: why had he depicted a bourgeois woman instead of a female proletarian? Where was Chairman Mao? Why didn't the poster praise the Chairman more explicitly? Every time the literature and arts world held a criticism session, he was dragged out as an object of public abuse. As a result, Ha was publicly beaten and humiliated more than thirty times.

Despite his maltreatment during the Cultural Revolution and a suicide attempt that caused the loss of sight in his right eye, Ha remained active as a poster designer until his retirement in 1992. A number of his propaganda paintings as well as his oil paintings has been included in Chinese museum collections. Ha was married to the designer You Longgu (游龙姑).

Sources:

Beijing yuyan xueyuan Zhongguo yishujia cidian bianweihui, Zhongguo yishujia cidian -- Xiandai diyi fence (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe, 1981) [in Chinese]

Ha Qiongwen (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin meishu chubanshe, 2009)

Ha Qiongwende lao xuanchuan hua [Ha Qiongwen's old propaganda paintings] (Shanghai: Shanghai huabao chubanshe, 2001)

Scott Minick and Jiao Ping, Chinese Graphic Design in the Twentieth Century (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1990)

Precious Memories Stored. Ha Qiongwen Picture-poster Show (Xuhui 2005)

Kuiyi Shen, "Publishing Posters Before the Cultural Revolution", Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall 2000), pp. 177-202 (follow link external link)

Michael Sullivan, Modern Chinese Artists - A Biographical Dictionary (Berkeley, etc: University of California Press, 2006)

Zhongguo meishuguan (ed.), 中国美术年鉴 1949-1989 (Guilin: Guangxi meishu chubanshe, 1993)

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