10/03/2005, 00.00
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Beijing shuts down Mao art exhibition

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Chinese authorities have shut down an exhibition of contemporary art featuring the communist republic's founder Mao Zedong, the gallery proprietor said.

Authorities shut down the show at the Xin Dong Cheng Gallery for Contemporary Art on National Day on Saturday but gave no explanation for their actions, said Cheng Xindong.

He was speaking from Paris, where he was attending the International Contemporary Art Fair.

A notice on the gallery door apologised for the cancellation of the exhibition which had featured 30 works, but said the gallery remained open.

Police were also present around the gallery in a former industrial district of Beijing converted into an artists' quarter.

Mr Cheng said the exhibition, which has "plenty of humour and is never malicious", married items of official propaganda from the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution with the works of contemporary Chinese artists.

"It is about how almost 30 years after (Mao's death) Chinese artists are still using this image of Mao for their works," he said.

But some items could have shocked authorities such as a black-and-white work shown in the catalogue in which the "Great Helmsman" is seated in a car next to a clearly fascinated Marilyn Monroe.

Another work shows a giant red head of Mao, from which emerges a bubble on which hundreds of little people are walking.

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