Monday, September 13, 2010

SH Shanghai: the Mix of Modern and Tradition

Yuwen Shane Li:

This was the first time that I visited the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair. To be honest, although I am a museum-goer and an art lover, I was never really into contemporary art. Especially after the 2008 Shanghai Biennale in which I was totally disgusted by the set of the statues (something along the lines of ' Chinese Dragon Marching into the New Milieu', I forgot the exact name), I became repulsive to contemporary art and delved into more traditional forms of art instead. However, when I saw the exhibition of Cai Guo-Qiang "Hanging Out in the Museum”, I was awed. It taught me that contemporary art is free of any boundary; it can be presented by any materials in any form. It changed my opinions on contemporary art.

So now I went to the SH Contemporary Art Fair. Other than the lecture on “how to invest in contemporary art”, the fair is quite amazing. Out of all the art works, "Phantom and Landscape" by Yang Yongliang surprised me the most. It was a set of medium art combined with the modern photography techniques, computer science with traditional Chinese ink painting, which I adored very much. Seen from the distance, his “video painting”(sorry I don’t know what to call it) resembles traditional landscape pictures in water and ink. However, when we take a closer look, the mountains, rivers and waterfalls in the picture are actually pictures of skyscrapers, shopping-malls (I saw the Pacific Department Store where I shop a lot!) and highways piled up together. I think Yang tries to convey the idea that we’re living in cities made of steel, but take a different perspective; life can also be beautiful.

I will forever search for such things, perfect blends of modern and tradition, which Yang's work is a superb example. I was even more astonished when I learned that Yang is born in 1980(!) and learned traditional Chinese ink painting and calligraphy for more than 10 years. Now he is a pioneer for "Neo-classism" in contemporary art in China and hosts show around the world! How I admire that!

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