Thursday, March 13, 2008

Paradise Landing Shanghai

Though, many Chinese cities like Beijing and Chengdu have long been recognized as the cultural and art center for their grandeur and history, Shanghai, the engine of the Chinese economic boom, has never ever stood as a city of art before.

Just like my history teacher has said, Shanghai is more like a bounder rather than a gentleman. The eagerness for quick success has blocked the local development of art.

Yet, the appearance of Moganshan has made a change to the situation. Rebuilt on a group of abandoned warehouses, Moganshan 50, with its unique character, helps to bring some new thoughts. Here, you can get removed from the frustrating daily routine, take a deep breathe, and find yourself a new way looking at the world.

In addition, Moganshan has created a wonderful place for the “collision” of western and eastern art. Here, you can enjoy the avant-garde paintings of world famous artists. Yet, around the other corner, you would be stroked by the huge mural paintings in Yuan Dynasty by traditional artists in China. In a sense, not a place can provide you with more direct comparison and contrast of the western and eastern style of art than that of Moganshan.

However, apart from fruitful works of foreign artists, Chinese ones still play a minor role in the field of contemporary art. Although I was impressed by the magical combination of colors of Wei Guangqing’s old scriptures, yet, from a Chinese perspective, I can detect little originality in his works.


History Never Tell!? - 6 March, 2008

Even staying in Shanghai for more than twenty years, never have I got the chance to see any of the propaganda posters myself, not to mention any of the Dazibao Posters. It seemed that the government had wiped out everything related to the Cultural Revolution. After all, the whole nation had suffered so greatly during the ten years that any of the recall would burn the wounds.
Yet, I agree with Mr. Yang. According to him, it was a shame that Chinese history books always avoid telling the young generation about the Cultural Revolution. It is a truth. Any one who tries to “forget” the past can never walk into the future.
However, I still find myself some interesting in the posters. Among all kinds of posters, I was so surprised to find that some of them employed the style of caricature, in particular those featuring the battle between east and west - the powerful strokes with fists, the westerns running away in all directions. This is absolutely different from my point of view for the people of the time. In my eyes, thoughts were prohibited and people were blunted by the government. There was no chance that posters could be created with such brilliant humor.

If the tour of the poster center attached great importance to the culture and people of the nation, then the exhibition in Bund 18 put more emphasize on human and nature. Fields, snow mountains, and working people are the three main characters in Qiu’s video. Also, he employed a combination of white, green and light blue, slightly conveyed his sadness. Although the visual representation is more close to the western style, his uses of dead wood and little droplets are important images in Chinese art – meaning sorrow, sometimes, desolation.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I may have heard this before but I like the way you put it with "Any one who tries to 'forget' the past can never walk into the future."