Title: GLORIOUS CCTV TOWER 宏伟的央视大楼新址
Artist: Nicholas Bonner/Dominic Johnson Hill with DPRK artist
Year: September 2008
Medium: Gouache on paper
Dimensions: 84 x 117.5 cm
A couple of tourists visit the glistening CCTV Tower. This is the architectural highlight of Beijing.
The artists started work on the picture in 2008. This was years before China started and completed the construction of the building. For reference, they only had small images of the building from architectural magazines.
The sky with red glowing sun copies the design of a 1970’s North Korean book cover. And the artist has somewhat distorted the perspective. But the scenes of a shiny modern city together with industry in full production are typical of North Korean imagery.
We can see the western couple being driven around in a Mercedes 190 (which was a car the Koreans tried to copy). Notable, as this is how small groups of tourists in North Korea are looked after; a private car, two guides, and a driver at all times outside of the hotel.
The streaming crowd of workers wave red flags and carry undecipherable banners. Indeed, the joy of living in this utopia is evident.
What’s more, is the reference to history made clear by the depiction of the Great Wall. This is certainly something that cannot be seen, even on a clear day, from Beijing.