In Mao and McCarthy, Xinning’s feigned documentation makes hilarious political commentary. Painted on grand-scale, as if blown up from the pages of Life magazine, the scene unfolds like an expose of over-looked evidence pointing out a most embarrassing gaff: all cameras and eyes on the accused, no one seems to recognise the real communists in the room (though who better to sit on the House Committee on Un-American Activities?) Xinning recreates this lost moment with the veritas of mass media authority, his high contrast palette and inky brushwork replicating the tones and texture of cold war journalism with all its greasy smudgy truth.

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