*This is the second part of three writings exploring the transformative power of art. It unites different cultures while exposing common humanity. A trip revisited to China deepens connections abroad and at home…
The unbridle tour of generosity and hospitality continues in China. I’ve never experienced this level of kindness before. It’s positively shocking, part tradition, and a reflection of humanity. Art once again unites and erases borders.
China is experiencing a surge in the contemporary art world. With first-class museums and exhibits inhabiting the country, its context fills a void in art history. In addition, a Chinese audience is now presented with exhibitions that were not available in the past. The West is provided a new platform to share and learn from the East.
The Shanghai Oil Painting & Sculpture Institute Museum provided a private tour of the China Art Museum. On exhibit was a retrospective of Fenando Botero’s disturbing and voluminous paintings exaggerating figures and class disparity. The artist is prolific in style and consistency. Missing was his Abu Gharib series depicting the horrors of torture and war.
Art can be found in unexpected places in Shanghai. K11 is a high-end shopping center featuring artworks from Damien Hirst to Yinka Shonibare sprinkled in unexpected areas. The mall’s basement features a survey of contemporary Chinese artists. From K11’s website: “It is where ideas, trends and lifestyles collide to form new ideas and new inspirations. Moreover, it is also a place to have fun, where people can enjoy art with a warm heart and a smile on their face.”
We were off to the studio of Luo Weimin, one of the artists in the Shanghai Oil Painting & Sculpture Institute Museum exhibit. He graciously invited the American artists over to his gallery and workshop. Weimen proceeded to demonstrate his masterful Chinese ink painting skills in record speed and beauty. He provided lessons but it’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks! With practice and time, I will improve.
The evening ended with an exquisite dinner provided by Luo Weimin. The appetite for art, sharing, collaborating, and learning thrives in China. From museums to shopping malls, art has invaded this territory. With open hearts and minds, the Chinese welcome collaboration. Making history through art one visit at a time.