Likailin in collaboration with Three White Walls presents Tian Taiquan

Likailin in collaboration with Three White Walls presents Tian Taiquan


November 20 – January 6

Likailin in collaboration with Three White Walls
Level 3, The Mailbox,
Wharfside Street,
Birmingham, England
0044 7817 007717

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” – Aldous Huxley

Artist and Chongqing native Tian Taiquan tackles metaphysical issues of life and death poeticilly, almost operatically through the use of photographic technology. Taking the Red Guard cemetery in Chongqing as his setting, Tian’s fictional reconstruction of historical environments establishes a tone of authority, telling the viewer this is a factual image; this is the truth.

‘Tears of Eros’ showcases a series of photographic installations form a collection of Tian s past and present works. His self-described “Revolutionary Pictures,” provide provoking imagery and commentary of a lost but not forgotten time in Chinese history – the Cultural Revolution. The graveyard where the Red Guards lay to rest becomes a sight of controversial historical authenticity, less for the content it provides, and more for its use of digital image manipulation.

Tian’s is a graveyard of neither the past nor present. What the artist aims to illustrate in hls fictionalized iconography is not the cemetery, but rather the ghosts and spirits that inhibit it. Superimposed with images of female bodies we are brought into a space where sex and death are blurred. By juxtaposing mutilated naked female bodies against an isolated and decrepit graveyard, the ghosts are likened to a dark yet arousing fantasy world of the artist.

In The Tears of Eros philosopher Georges Bataille discusses correlations between the beauty of divine ecstasy and fear of torture. Tian’s spirit-bodies placed amidst an isolated and solemn graveyard bring to mind Bataille’s divine eroticism. Their severed corpses are not as sadistic as they are melancholic, adorned by subtle lighting and shadow. Tian came to international prominence through his use of superimposition and digital manipulation in his earlier photography. Totem Recollection and Legend, much like his newer work, create a dichotomy between sacrifice and injustice.

Tian’s comment on contemporary society manages to be specific to the local situation, while remaining universal. By linking the historical with the contemporary Tian makes statements on the social situation in present-day China as well as providing an aesthetic quality. The graveyard is a proverbial site for the exploration of buried truths. The past is buried, or so it seems on the surface; yet amid the superficially modern exterior of China’s mega-cities, lurk the ghosts of a not so distant past. Viewers know this graveyard as the burial place for deceased Red Guards, yet we can likewise view it as a place where those who serve the greater national good [be it protecting the state or the economyJ are laid to rest.

Private viewing: 20 November 6.30pm – 8.30pm:
RSVP to Jane Decle on 0044 121 643 0078 or email

General viewing: 21 November to 6 January:
For exhibition times and venue details contact Jane Decle, email or call 00 44 121 643 0078

For information about Tian Taiquan contact Catherine Raines, email: or call 07817 007717


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