The other day, I invited several workmen into my home in Beijing to hang pictures. They included prints from the US and a number of posters from China's Cultural Revolution period. These posters depict the iconic workers, schoolchildren and parades, and one is a rather large, sombre photo of Mao. It incites such a wide variety of reactions among Chinese that my wife has forbidden me from displaying it anywhere but the bedroom. While living in Hong Kong a few years ago, we hung the picture near the front door. I quickly learned that was a mistake. Local workmen, from Hong Kong or Guangdong, were appalled or confused that we would hang it in a place of veneration. More worldly Hong Kong Chinese friends were equally astonished, and would admonish us for what they assumed was a sign of approval for Mao. The reaction in China has been more mixed. Elderly people feel it is inappropriate. The older man who came to hang curtains called it 'ridiculous'. The two younger men, while banging in nails, asked questions about where we bought it and how much it cost, but seemed to have no objections. What is interesting is how strongly they react to it simply as a mirror of political sentiment, and their surprise that we view it as art. This leaves me in the awkward position of trying to explain why, to a westerner, the Mao poster is an example of Cultural Revolution chic. It symbolises a sweeping political movement and reflects the extreme idolisation of Mao. It is an attractive poster simply because of the simplicity of the image, and - most difficult of all - it is ironic. The irony lies in the fact that Mao sits in a place of honour on my wall. But the poster also shares Andy Warhol's transformation of Mao into celebrity and decoration. This is a hard concept to explain in any language. As I did not grow up in China, I have the luxury of distance. Ultimately, as the years pass, so too will most Chinese.