Thursday, March 12, 2009


As opposed to showing completed and polished works, ShanghArt's current exhibition features the preliminary sketches for many well known artists' pieces. Included in the show were the drawings for Orchid Figure, a recent exhibit by Chinese born illustrator/ photographer/ animator, Tang Maohong.

Tang's recent works are a series of simple animations, many of which are only a few frames and played on repeat. The images in Tang's drawings are surreal and usually perverse such as a cupid stuck in a woman's vagina. Despite this, there is a level of humor in Tang's work, and the quantity and illustrative quality of such images strangely dilutes the content, which would us normally be rather offensive. By using reference from magazines and the internet, Tang's work often depicts traditional Chinese elements which he perverts by either changing or removing the head, pulling down pants, etc. The content of the the drawings and animations range from politics, to childhood, fantasy, and many other realms. Tang's works are a collision of a slew of disparate imagery, reminding one of the oft-disregarded sexual thoughts that occur from time to time in the back our minds.

Upon first seeing Tang's work, I was immediately reminded of 80s and early 90s underground animation such as Aeon Flux, or Heavy Metal as well as the work of Wu Junyong. Tang's illustrations also look very much like European comic art although the content is primarily Chinese. The aim of Tang's work is to legitimize commercial illustration which is commonly looked down upon in the art world. With his drawings Tang hopes to torpedo commercial illustration into the art world with a mix of brazen pornography and surreal absurdity.

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