Reprising his Chinese Paintings series of 1974—79, Errós lithographic portfolio Mao’s Last Visit to Venice, issued in 2003, combines Socialist Realism—the idealized, propagand-ist mode favored by the Communist Chinese and Soviet governments—with sunny, picturesque views of Western urban settings culled from postcards, posters, and travel brochures. In the lithographs, hyper-realistic depictions of Mao Zedong and his followers share space with images of the Italian city’s famous piazzas and monuments. Are the triumphant Communists conquering “La Serenissima,” or are they merely tourists, taking in Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal, and scouting for souvenirs?
In Mao’s Last Visit to Venice, Erró adeptly exposes the visual similarities between highly idealized, tourist-postcard city-scapes and Socialist Realist art, despite their obvious ideo-logical differences. In juxtaposing the two, he reveals both national and theoretical borders to be permeable. As Mao’s Last Visit to Venice reminds us, political and cultural differences between East and West, while constantly declared, are sometimes difficult to sustain.