China during the Cultural Revolution: women Red guards. Colour lithograph after Chen Guoli and Bai Renhai, 1975.
- Chen, Guoli
- January 1975
About this work
The painting shows a group of female Red Guards ('hong wei bing') wearing badges with Mao’s portrait and chatting happily in a dormitory. One girl is holding a pictorial magazine ('hua bao') with a painting of Mao; and the girl on the opposite side is holding a red armband with "hong wei bing" (Red Guard) written on it. In the 1960s and 1970s, members of 'educated youth' ('zhi shi qing nian') were encouraged to go to the countryside to reside and to work. Chairman Mao said the countryside is a vast world having plenty of opportunities; working and training there can develop people’s skills to the full. But the real reasons for the campaign were thought to be the increasing pressures on population and employment in urban areas, and Mao's wish to disband the uncontrollable 'Red Guards'. Nearly 18 million young people were affected by the campaign. Many of them lived in conditions of great hardship without any preparation for rural life, and returned to urban areas after the Cultural Revolution