This original oil on canvas was painted about 1968, the year of the "Three-way Alliance." Like most of the paintings of this era, the painting is unsigned because its art embodies the revolutionary spirit while eschewing the personal ambition of the artist. This is an extremely rare original work from the Cultural Revolution period of China. The red pencil handwriting on the reverse shows that the painting was once included in the exhibition: "Show room 3, Exhibition number 22, Painting number 793."
The Cultural Revolution started in 1966. Mao Zedong proposed dramatic seizures of power of the old apparatus by the Red Guard and workers' groups and the establishment of 'People's Communes' based on Karl Marx's Paris Commune model. The power seizures taking place throughout the country in January 1967 were somewhat ineffective - while the old Communist Party of China (CCP) surrendered power, the Red Guards did not effectively take over the power because they did not yet have the official backing of the military and the administration abilities. Zhou Enlai then encouraged the Red Guards to allow administrators to continue in their official, routine duties after taking over an institution. Thus the "Three-way Alliance Committee" was introduced as a more effective way to seize and retain power.
On 31st January, 1967, The Heilongjiang provincial Revolution Committee was established as an alliance of revolutionary rebels, the PLA*, and revolutionary CCP cadres, which became the model for the Cultural Revolution's administrative system.
Although the formation of the revolutionary committee had been endorsed by Beijing, the conflicts among the different revolutionary groups remained, and the framed persecution and harsh criticism of the veteran cadres grew more violent in the following months.
Later in the fall of 1967, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China forwarded Mao Zedong's saying that the majority of cadres were good, only a small number of them were bad. Mao stressed that, "Treating cadres with a correct attitude is crucial to the implementation of Three-way Alliance Committee".
Cadres at all levels then needed to attend lectures designed to correct their thinking. After that, they could "return to Chairman Mao's revolutionary political path". This wording is illustrated on the white banner on the upper left area of the painting. The whole writing on the banner is "Welcome the revolutionary cadre returns to Chairman Mao's revolutionary political path". The subject line - "Treating cadres with a correct attitude" on the "Liberation Daily" newspaper on the desk is a citation from the red book, Quotations from Chairman Mao. The theme of the painting is clearly stated by the facial expressions, the gestures and the objects - The Mao's portrait, banners, newspaper with recognizable text, and the red books. The painting is artwork spreading propaganda of that period.
With the Cultural Revolution's emphasis on "struggle, criticize, and transform", "transform" was not apparent at this stage, though struggles between classes and different mass organizations, and power seizures among political parties in the name of revolution continued festering, despite the positive vibes of the painting.
In late 1968, the May 7 Cadre Schools were set up in accordance with Mao Zedong's May 7 Directive, which was released on 7 May 1966. In this directive, Mao suggested setting up farms, later called cadre schools, where cadres and intellectuals, "sent down" from the cities, would perform manual labor and undergo ideological reeducation. During the Cultural Revolution, "transferring cadres to lower levels" became a favored method for removing unyielding cadres and intellectuals from the cities. The Central Committee and the State Council built 106 May 7 cadres schools, scattered over 18 provinces. More than 100,000 officials from the central government, including Deng Xiaoping, and 30,000 family members were transferred to these schools. Some returned to their original posts or were assigned other positions after the "relearning" process. Others stayed indefinitely.
*PLA - People's Liberation Army