Sui Jianguo is a contemporary Chinese artist and a professor and ex-chairman of the Department of Sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.Sui became internationally prominent through the use of “naturalistic sculptures” that made use of rocks, boulders, and steel. These early sculptures brought him out into the international scene. Sui’s true acclaim came in 1997 when he crafted his first Mao suit; A sculpture entitled “Legacy Mantle” that imitated Chairman Mao’s communist jacket. His jackets would interest famous collectors such as Uli Sigg and help gain him recognition in the international scene.
What could be considered the catalyst in this series of changes is the death of Mao Zedong. China under Mao Zedong underwent an enormous change in social, political and economical thought. Older ideas that were once revered such as Confucianism, Buddhism, and education were severely limited or banned all together. Government programs such as the Great Leap Forward (1958–1961), or the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) would have effects that still echo today in the work of Sui Jianguo. During this time period Mao became the sole figure of the People’s Communist Party, he was he most important figure for the Chinese people that existed at the time. It is then no surprise that after his death changes ensued rapidly, leaving the political and social realm ready for change. When Sui was twenty-six, Deng Xiaoping became China’s new figurehead, bringing changes that would affect the economic, social and political scene.