Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shanghai Art

I experienced a good bit of art while I was in Shanghai on my vacation, beginning when I stumbled upon an art museum in People's Square/People's Park called MoCA, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art. It is a striking glass structure surrounded by the arboreal realm of an inner-city green space.

They were having an exhibition titled Reflection of Minds, and there were two pieces I really loved. One was this three-dimensional piece which begins with a large package or box, marked "Fragile" that has been opened carelessly. It is splayed open on the floor. Whatever it was that was inside has been smashed into pieces (a traditional landscape), and the pieces are literally strewn about the exhibit space--on the floor, the walls, support beams, the balustrade leading up to the next floor ...

Docents were watching like hawks, so I didn't get a pic (actually it would take three or four to really appreciate this piece). I did manage to snap my second favorite, titled "Try Hard to Forget" by Yu Tianzhu.

It is a collage of dozens and dozens of posed team pictures, small groups, graduating classes, sales meetings, what have you ... but each and every face has been carefully scratched out by the artist, who is trying hard, I guess, to forget. I thought it was brill.

The better-known art museum of Shanghai is the unimaginatively titled "Shanghai Art Museum". During the Colonial era, this striking building was the clubhouse of the European-only horse racing course that became People's Square during Mao's revolution. The top floors are Kathleen's 5 Restaurant, where I ate on my visit, blogged here (the food was very good, but the views are the real draw).

The SAM only had one exhibit open the day I went (Huh? This is during EXPO, do I need to mention?) and I managed to snap a couple of shots of the artist's best work:

People's Park is quite an artwork in itself with its statues, floral displays and water plants. "People's Park" is also the name and location of a subway stop of Shanghai's excellent public transportation system, where lines 1, 2 and 8 meet. Northeast of the park is a major shopping/tourist area, including Grand Cinema, Madame Tussaud's, and No. 1 Department Store (where you can find Nina's Sichuan Restaurant).

On Saturdays, an interesting thing happens in People's Park--a flea market. Well, okay, a MARRIAGE flea market. Sources tell me that most of the flyers pinned up on ths recent Saturday were glowing, hand-written decription of someone looking for love. So I guess my pictures were mainly parents seeking mates for their children.

I also went to the highly regarded Zendai Museum of Art, located in Pudong not too far from the Science and Technology Museum. I wasn't hugely impressed.

But here is a painting from the collection next to the building in question:

The coolest art museum in the city, though, has to be the Propaganda Poster Art Museum, which is a collection of Cultural Revolution-era posters tucked away in the basement of an ordinary apartment building. The posters were collected and displayed by Yang Pei Ming who was in the house on the rainy Sunday morning I visited.


Tanner Brown said...

The fourth poster says "Defend the Cuban Revolution." And I like how the one after that -- the anti-Vietnam one -- has a black guy next to words "We must not fight our brothers." Reminds me of China's extensive support of African independence and anti-capitalist movements in the 60s-70s. These days, though, large numbers of Chinese will openly admit their distrust and disdain for blacks -- African or otherwise.

Tuttle said...

Do you think they were supporting African independence movements or angling for access to raw materials?