Spoleto Festival USA General Director Nigel Redden unveiled the official festival poster this morning. It depicts a portion of Chinese artist Li Songsong’s painting “Beast.”

According to Spoleto organizers, the artist is best known for his large-scale compositions that vaguely interpret modern and historic events in China. “He’s a member of China’s ‘in-between’ generation — too young to have directly witnessed life under Mao, but old enough to remember the Tiananmen Square uprising — which sets him apart both from his older peers who lived through the Cultural Revolution and from younger colleagues who have known only relative openness and growing international awareness of China’s experimental art scene,” the release states. His paintings start with photos, but his goal isn’t to commemorate events or make a point about them; instead he reacts to them purely as an artist.

Redden says Li’s approach makes him a perfect fit for the 2012 festival season, which features two original opera productions — Kepler and Feng Yi Ting — that are contemporary interpretations of historic figures and events.

After a year hiatus, the Window Display Contest returns for 2012. The contest challenges local shops to use the poster as inspiration for their window displays. For the first time this year, anyone can vote via Facebook or Twitter. All displays must be completed by May 18. See spoletousa.org for more info on the poster and the contest.

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