Shenzhen Art Museum

Last weekend we went to the simply-named Shenzhen Art Museum, of which I am ashamed to say I had never yet been.

The museum is located deep in Luohu District’s Donghu park, a beautiful park indeed, but not particularly nearby any subway station and hence I rarely go. A simple museum, the day’s theme was “Thermomatter” concerning the nature of the city itself juxtaposed by village traditions with urban sprawl…

Notably featured in SZ Daily:

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I appreciated the photography, electrical grid, and particularly the piece entitled Mother.

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Redtory Art District in Guangzhou

Despite the disappointing ‘comic con’, my little trip to Guangzhou wasn’t a total waste. In fact, I had a great time. It’s an amazing city, even bigger than the already-overwhelmingly mega cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. I recommend Turkish restaurants for example…

We decided to head to the Redtory/红专厂 art district, to showcase the lovely artistic side of the city. Like 798 in Beijing, it is made up of a former factory that has been refurnished into a space for galleries and hip little coffee shops. While Beijing’s version is far more successful and artistically valid, we make do with what we can in the Pearl River Delta.

 

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To get there, simply go to Yuancun station and right outside exit B there is a shuttle bus which only costs 2 yuan. Drive through an urban village area, it’s a little out there, but transportation is very convenient.

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Open 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

 

And then we made it!

Looks like a lot going on:

 

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There was a quaint market, always fun to buy little trinkets and gifts.

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Take a stroll to see the various shops.

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Even some factory-themed readymades.

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With many galleries featuring powerful works of painting, photography, and sculpture

 

 916 Studio: The Persistence of Images curated by Wang Chuan

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 RMCA Hall: Black Birds  exhibition by Israeli artist Avital Cnaani

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 The Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art featured an exhibit on “Neo-Mororism”
Tickets only 10 yuan

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 Lastly, I love this little mascot guy posted all over the place!

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Pedder Art Galleries in Hong Kong

I recently went to Hong Kong to check out some art galleries.

I highly recommend going to the Pedder Building on Pedder Street in Central. It’s very easy to get to; simply take the MTR to Central and walk out of Exit D1 and you’re right there.

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From up to down: The 1st floor contains Gagaosian Gallery – 2nd floor PearlLam Galleries – 4th floor Hanart TZ Gallery – 3rd floor Ben Brown Fine Arts

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The Rudolph Stingel exhibition at Gagaosian contained some interesting golden and metallic prints, large abstract scratches made from audience participation. I found it poignant that if you look directly into the reflective material you see yourself..

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PearlLam exhibited ‘Perfection by Chance’ Yi Pai series, the space regularly presenting leading Chinese artists. Works by Qin Yufen, Su Xiaobai, Su Xinping, Tan Ping, Yang Zhilin, and Zhu Jinshi curated by Professor Gao Minglu.

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Hanart TZ Gallary with Roundsky: paintings by Emily Cheng. Very new agey, lots of religious symbolism incorporating text into the paintings. Read closely.

And, the space had personalized arcade console with a working game!

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Ben Brown presented Simon Birch: The Inevitable. I found these paintings very powerful. Large-scale, a painter with much talent in presenting the human form but choosing to cut up the figures, especially the faces. Seemed full of anger, almost violent, never still.

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Some fine work up there.

All in all, it was a great day.

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SZ Art – Animation Biennial

On Sunday afternoon I went to the B10 art hall for the “2nd Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial” within the OCT Loft neighborhood.

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I think it’s more a video art exhibition than animation. But semantics.

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Can you make out the artists? Somewhat international.

Make sure to click for more detail.

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The cinema, times:

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An avant-garde Japanese film, of which I honestly could not understand:

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I quite liked this Taiwanese loop, critique of consumerism it must be:

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And so on

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OCCUPY MORE!

Another amazing experience in Admiralty. The movement is still going strong a month later, with no signs of letting up. Perhaps it will be a permanent fixture in Hong Kong, wouldn’t that be amazing!

Another amazing experience in Admiralty. The pro-democracy/Occupy movement is still going strong a month later, with no signs of letting up. A substantial community of sharing and donations, an authentic anarcho-commune collective in a modern metropolis. It is truly working. In some ways it actually reminded me of Burning Man, yet it is even less regulated and more organic. An inspiration. Perhaps it will be a permanent fixture in Hong Kong, wouldn’t that be amazing!

At 6:00 p.m. sharp I witnessed the umbrella-opening ceremony. I wandered and learned a lot. I saw tens of thousands of campers, infinite yellow ribbons, inspiring post-it’s along the Lennon Wall – You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one – and recorded some more video which I hope to edit soon and share. I was blown away by the creativity. T-shirts, banners, sculptures Umbrella Man ad Spider-Man and more, with cute paper Totoros. Even a library. The KFC sign amused me. And I like the setup in the bathrooms, with toothpaste ad shaving cream and even has volunteers to clean up. Very nice. The most solemn moment was the ‘Dark Corner’ area where a recent incident of police brutality took place. Finally, the umbrella tree.

Recently, I’ve been reading the book “Why Nations Fail” and while I am not smart enough to understand economics on a complex level, the book explains in layman’s terms that civilizations tend to be extractive or inclusive economies. Extractive are always unsustainable and damage a country, but the elites prefer it because it is good for only them. It is very hard to change this. Throughout all of history, development in human rights (which in turn helps growth) never comes because elites politely give it away through their bureaucratic laws, but because the masses of people demand it. Period.

CY Leung’s recent comments about how democracy is bad because it will give poor people too much political power… That is straight out of the thesis of this book. Let me just say, in my own layman’s terms, fuck this guy and this system.

Meanwhile, the latest propaganda from the mainland purports that it is all a scheme from Western governments. I scoff at that, because if it was so easy for outsiders to start movements than why are the PRC-funded counterprotests so pathetic?! They keep coming up with new narratives, from it’s only bad for business to pretending it’s all about rule-of-law to now this. Of course, it is truly a matter of the elites…

Things will change. I know they will. It won’t be easy, and it’s always a struggle because an entrenched system cannot even comprehend positive change, but it does come eventually.

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Conforming to Vicinity – Chinese Art Exhibition

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He Xiangning Art Museum is still among my favorite museums in Shenzhen. I’m still amazed by the quality of exhibitions they host. The latest is “Conforming to Vicinity — A cross-straits Four-region Artistic Exchange Project 2014”, which showcases thirteen artists from Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, and mainland China. Get it?

Starting from Macau then on to Pingtun in Taiwan (next stop HK), the exhibition has migrated to different cities and adapts to the style of the locale. Even though the mainland is less free than those other sovereign/pseudosovereign versions of China, I do trust that all art was being true to itself with minimal political pressure. No heavy-handed propaganda about Taiwan joining a harmonious union, all was subtle. Indeed, I believe cultural exchanges are great things in promoting overall peace.

There is a lot of meaning to these pieces. For more information go to hxnart.com or even better come in person and pick up the bilingual literature.

I thoroughly enjoyed and I recommend to tall. The museum is at OCT subway station, follow the signs. Free entry. Closed Mondays.

 

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Fortress Besieged Game: Disordered Region
Zhang Wenzhou

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Note the chair near the ceiling…

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Chang of Ink Spots video installation
Hung Keung

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Banknote Figure Paintings:
When We Were Together
Mao Zedong Among the People
Zhao Lin

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Dating in Guangzhou – The end… my humble ‘successes’

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Dating in China, blah blah. I’m coming to an endpoint here. At least the end of my Guangzhou Year point.

Yes, I was getting sick of GZ. But not sick of China yet, not even close. I decided to go back to the familiarity of another city, my default locale. Shenzhen is just where I would’ve ended up eventually anyway, might as well surrender to my destiny. I sincerely like it better, somehow it works for me. I can’t believe I’m still here.

Guangzhou, in all its overwhelming epicness, was a place to study and a place to learn yet not a place for permanence.

In this final installment of the Provincial Capital’s memories, let me be a bit more positive. I may have complained too much in previous entries; I should be more grateful for the wonderful experiences I’ve had. It wasn’t all lonely nights in Canton…

 

There was Nellie, whom I met on POF. She had an exotic face, a cutesy style, and she invited me to her glamorous home to drink French wine. I spent a weekend there, she was so gracious. Regaled with tales of work and travel.

She visited me in Shenzhen once too.

Then there was Janey, whom I met on gzstuff.com. It was all so natural and easy, she added me or I added her (who remembers at this point?) and I simply suggested we go on a date and then we did and it ended nicely.

She was very attractive, thoroughly modern, and studied yoga. She didn’t mind coming out all the way to my place. But oddly shy. Like open in some ways, so reserved in others. We went to the cinema several, and window-shopped at Tianhe malls.

One day we had a fight when I went to her area in Taojin. I got bad directions and got lost and was late. No dinner even, only harsh words. It simply wasn’t meant to be long-term.

Most of all, there was Valerie, my then friend-with-benefit of choice. An office worker in glasses with a casual style. She was from Yunnan. She lived in deep Panyu, far away from downtown, and she was happy to visit me. We first met at a market in Shiqiao, the busiest area of the district and a world away from the city center.

I took her to dinner, went to parks, we enjoyed many weekends together lounging about my area. She liked me, she really liked me. Always cool, always happy, always there for me. Such an awesome person.

And no drama. I thank her for this. Today, as I think back and compare, I could not be more grateful for her positivity and good times.

I hope she thinks well of me now. I don’t even know why we didn’t become boyfriend and girlfriend. Didn’t seem in the cards, didn’t seem we had that kind of thing going. She wasn’t really who I pictured myself with, to be honest. We never had any serious conversations. She never pressured me to take things further. She was perpetually chill. Who knows, perhaps something was going on in her personal life at the time.

Still, I wonder…

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Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale

I recently went to a ‘post-participation’ sculpture exhibition in Shenzhen’s OCT (Overseas Chinese Town) neighborhood, at the great halls of B10 and OCAT, to check ot the SZ Sculpture Biennale.

More information can be found at: http://www.biennialfoundation.org/biennials/shenzhen-sculpture-biennale-china/

 

Pictures:

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Update: New Tattoo

As promised in my first post about tats, here are the photos of my new tattoo.

I found a little tattoo shop in Baishizhou village near my new place in Shenzhen and decided to go with it. My design idea was fairly simple, and I bargained a bit with the proprietor, which kind of makes me nervous. This is almost a medical procedure, why act like it’s you’re buying knockoff bags or something? Settled for 300 yuan, which I think is fair but not so cheap I’ll be afraid I’m getting hepatitis.

The design is a hexagram which represents the Anahata heart chakra, as per my long-running spinal cord design idea. To me, the two overlapping triangles are not necessarily the (more famous in the West) Jewish Star of David, but an important symbol of meditation. One triangle points up, towards “Heaven,” the higher realities we hope we can understand when becoming more enlightened. The other triangle points down because we all come from the Earth and we must get our affairs in order on this plane while trying to simultaneously achieve something higher. Right?

However, I decided to have triangles point from side to side, because why not. Something different. And, less construed to be jewy. The cosmic Left & Right, perhaps.

It is not finished. Still needs color, some more flashy designs, bells and whistles. This is just the outline of the more complex tattoo I hope to have in the future. But a decent outline I’m happy to show off.

So, why now? The answer is, I happen to be writing this while on my big America trip and I wanted to have something new on my person before going home. It was one of my final errands on the to-do list, along with packing and buying souvenirs.

And to answer the question people often ask, yes it hurts. Not that bad, but it’s an odd uncomfortable feeling on the back. The arms didn’t hurt that much, I recommend to everyone that you get a needle piercing through your shoulder or forearm before the backside.

That is my update.

Tell me: what do you think?


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Tattoos

I have six tattoos. It’s a hobby of mine, albeit it’s an expensive hobby that I don’t get to indulge in often enough.

Each one is meaningful to me. I put a lot of thought into them and I have no regrets.

For a while, I was doing one per year. Then I stopped for several years. In anticipation of my big travel plans coming up, I want to get some new ink! What to choose, what to choose…

Let’s discuss. But first, the background on my present state.

I got my first tattoo when I was 21. It was the Disinformation logo:

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A little out of order, keep in mind

That’s Disinformation Press, the counter-cultural alternative media publishers. I was very into them at the time. Read all their books, such as EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG and YOU ARE BEING LIED TO among others. See the website Disinfo.com, which is unfortunately not what it used to be. The logo is supposed to be red on white, but I was told black is better and I do think that works.

The only disappointing part was that people would always ask my why I tattooed the Napster logo. So annoying. Thankfully nobody says that anymore, because Napster is no longer a thing. These days, occasionally someone says it looks like a cat not a devil’s head, but I’m still for it.

Next, I got a simple Icthys, otherwise known as the Jesus Fish. Why would I get this, you ask? Well there’s more to this fish than you know. One theory I enjoyed purports that it is a map of three-dimensional holographic reality by superimposing two flat circles which are Gnostic meta-universes (perhaps Heaven and Hell). Thank Grant Morrison’s the Invisibles graphic comics series for that. However, that interesting theory doesn’t hold up to further research. In truth, historical records show that various ancient pre-Christian civilizations used this symbol as a female fertility symbol. Turn it sideways, clockwise. Get it? It’s the most graphic of female parts, right there!

I decided to keep going with that pattern, I wanted to cover my body with various occultic logos from all over. Next stop, that most meditative of endocrine system metaphors, the chakras.

You might think I regret it how it turned out, but I don’t. Yes I’ve been accused of having a tramp stamp.

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Damn I was so thin back then

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‘Hooking Up in China’ – Playing the field…

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A sketch of yours truly, with Beijinger artist

Dating in China might often be more accurately called Hooking Up in China, and in late 2009/early 2010 that was the kind of thing I was looking for. With varying degrees of success, mostly that is not succeeding, I had a myriad of experiences and lived and learned and notches on the bedpost and so on.

At that stage, I was a bit frustrated. My brief romance was lovely but unfulfilling in one certain way. Meanwhile, all those other expat guys constantly bragged about getting laid. I shouldn’t complain, but I wondered why I wasn’t quite keeping up. Eh, perhaps those guys were exaggerating as us bros tend to do. Really, I rarely saw the guys with a new girl every week, nothing like that. Much would be said in passing, well after the fact. Or maybe they knew better than to take girls out in public? Who knows the truth, the truth is a quantum superposition with multiple perspectives. Men round up and women round down and all realities exist simultaneously.

I’m diverging. Whatever, still I yearned. I asked out girls. Went on abortive dates. The proverbial gold-diggers (who can’t get much out of me, I’m sure not their kind of guy). Bad Christmas parties. Friend-zoned. My schedule sure got complicated. Slowly but surely, I got slightly better at the picking up chicks thing.

And so I began my evolution/devolution into the asshole I am today, or so I’ve been accused.

Here are a few of my so-called successes. Annie. Sky. Lulu. Even friendly Hailey. With so many girls in this post, please let me reiterate that these are fake names…

 

Annie

Annie was a platonic friend, a short Chinese party girl who danced all night with the expats. Continue reading

Sketches of girls

Here’s a hobby of mine, I like to draw. I know I’m not quite good enough to ‘dream’ to become an artist (I have other unrealistic dreams thank you very much), but it’s something I like to do for fun.

Perhaps I do have a bit of talent, you be the judge. Yet, I’m too lazy. I don’t like rulers, dull backgrounds, or even color. If you contrast with my cartoon style that stems directly from the imagination–which to me is more about story-telling over purely visual craft–it’s a quite different style than with these live models whom I’ve been lucky enough to sketch. Well, I generally like drawing pretty girls… especially faces…

The materials are charcoal pencils, pens, sketch pads and bristol board. Please allow me to share a few of my drawings through the years:

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she is asleep

Graffiti SZ

Something missing in Shenzhen, and Chinese cities in general, is graffiti. While people don’t mind tagging phone numbers for services rendered and pasting ugly little ads all over the place, there is a serious lack of creativity. Any good graffiti often gets immediately painted over by the buzz-killing authorities.

It’s not an Asian thing by the way, Japan has some of the best street art in the world. I believe it’s a cultural right, to decorate the blank walls and boring buildings and aging train cars. Real first-tier cities the world over have great tags (especially in Europe)…

Let me just add that in America it is largely a myth that graffiti signifies gang activity. Gang tags are fucking bad art, just stupid geometrical shapes to signify territory in the worst neighborhoods. Good street art, however, is done by real artists and gives a place color and vibrancy. It’s life! It’s pure art, free for everyone to enjoy! No price! Paint over it and there will be a new one, that’s what it’s all about!

So, I’m happy to see good tagging in China. Often the artistic areas of Guangzhou, and Beijing have some quality works. I’m no expert on the subject, but check hereas check out what I’ve seen and liked in SZ:

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