Shenzhen Art 5: Dafen oil painting village (& gallery)

In the final instalment, let’s check out Dafen oil painting village.

Wasn’t too busy during the holidays, but who wants crowds?

In the outskirts of suburban Longgang District we find the famous village, a landmark of the city. I hadn’t been here in years. This time it isn’t so much a high-brow art scene as a place to buy copies of famous paintings for your hotel or restaurant or something. Classics, pop art, commissioned portraits, a few originals. All is wholesale, bargainable, assembly-line. It is good to see some lowly art students be so capitalist and hustle to make a living.

THAT is rather Shenzhen

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There is a museum with a proper gallery, and there were some interesting works by very talented artists in there as well worth seeing. I enjoyed the Steve Jobs done in traditional Chinese painting style, that is really rather Dafen/SZ…

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And back to the village,

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Among other sights, it was nice to watch an artist at work. Incredible.

Lastly, feeling inspired, I conclude my Shenzhen art tour with the purchasing of some supplies of my own.

When next I blog, hope to have something to show off.

Thanks for click!

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Shenzhen Art 4: OCAT “Echoes of Socialist Realism” to the future…

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OCAT (OCT Contemporary Art Terminal) is is the central exhibition hall in the heart of the OCT-LOFT area, and currently houses this time-spanning exhibition covering the remnants socialist realism from the Communist red era to see how it influences and inspires modern art and then carries predictions of the future. It is important to know where one comes from, and move forward, isn’t it?

I enjoyed the large-scale canvasses myself.

From Shezhen Daily: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2014-01/30/content_2770271.htm

The exhibition is divided into three sections: “From the Issue of Art to the Issue of Position: Echoes of Socialist Realism,” “Keep the Modern Going: Immersion, Awaiting and Idealism” and “Multi-Future.”

The exhibition, showcasing oil paintings, installations, video, dramas and fine art research in China from 1949 to 2013, attempts to reassess how realism influences and molds art.

The exhibition also presents some rethinking and reevaluation of old works. It studies Chinese contemporary art as early as the year 1949, instead of starting from the 1980s. “To revisit the past is to rediscover the work and ideas that were yet to be fully explored and recognized. It is to expand the historical dimensions within which we study Chinese art and to position our current work in a richer and more open context,” said curator Lu.

The exhibited Chinese artworks created from 1949 to the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 reflect the socialist realism style, which often glorifies the roles of the working class. While realistic paintings in the late 1980s and 1990s depict the real, sometimes negative, aspects of life. Scenes that took place in people’s homes, on the streets, in parks and on buses are seen in that era’s artworks.

 

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Shenzhen Art 3: B10 “Design Edge: Inside/Outside”

Let us now travel to OCT-LOFT, the creative center of Shenzhen.

B10 is an amazing warehouse gallery in heart of the ‘hip’ Loft neighborhood. A huge venue, an incredible project. As part of the OCT-LOFT Creative Festival, this exhibition really brings it.

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From their publications: 
The “design experimental field” mentioned here contains three levels;
First, the field that breeds design experiments [the lab];
Second, the field that leads to imaginations regarding the future [Utopia];
Third, the field that is reconstructed in the real world [improvement of the present reality]

Ambitious, right!

There are nine international design research projects exhibited, hailing for all over the world. Self Unself. Inside the White Wale. Connecting Cities. Fluid Archives – Data Come to Me. Mobile Voices – Projecting the Voices of Immigrant Workers by Appropirating Mobile Phones for Popular Communication. The Museum of the Future 2040. Emotive Environment – Thinking and Creating with Active Materials. Multilingual – Typography. E-embroidery and Interior Embroidery.

Ranging from video art to walk-in instillations, there’s too much to go over in one brief blog. Please check it out in person for more. You have until March 8th…

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I’d like to add that I was particularly impressed with the Multilingual Typography instillation, brought to you by the Geneva University of Art and Design. I think that it is a very important subject in an increasingly globalized world. Typesetters can’t be pleased with just one language anymore, it’s not enough. And cities like Shenzhen and Hong Kong and elsewhere prove it; modern fonts must be designed with multiple languages in mind. A lot to think about, and a lot to enjoy in these recordings of such.

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Shenzhen Art 2: He Xiangning 何香凝 “From Manufacture to Design: 20th Century German Design”

On the next installment of my holiday-in-Shenzhen, let us check out He Xiangning (何香凝) museum.

Here is an excerpt from an article I wrote in May of last year about the museum, outdated but some pertinent information: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2013-05/03/content_2466061.htm

Right next door and also in the OCT area is the more traditionally styled He Xiangning Art Museum devoted to the artist of the same name, who lived from 1878 to 1972. Born in Hong Kong, she later studied in Japan, and rose to prominence during tumultuous times in Chinese history. The first floor has a section devoted to her hybrid Japanese and Chinese style water paintings, full of mountainside landscapes and poems. The remaining halls are simply titled “Collection of Contemporary Art,” an eclectic mixture of mainland art from classical realism to impressionistic abstract. The second floor includes sculptures and photography, and the present exhibition will continue until this weekend. It all makes for a lovely atmosphere, but unfortunately the museum is not very English friendly and translations are lacking. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Closed Mondays by the way.

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The current exhibition concerns German design through the ages and is quite interesting indeed.

Shenzhen Daily has more, as a matter of fact… http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2013-12/10/content_2714414.htm

“From Manufacture to Design: 20th Century German Design” in He Xiangning Art Museum narrates the story of Germany’s design success, giving an inspiring overview of the past 100 years.

The exhibits are provided by China Design Museum from the prosperous coastal city of Hangzhou. In 2011, Hangzhou purchased 7,010 pieces of items from German collector Torsten Broehan, including furniture, houseware and posters, dating from the 1850s to the end of the 20th century.

Many of the pieces, which make their public debut in Shenzhen, are considered landmarks of the design industry. One of them is a prototype of the Barcelona Chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. It was originally designed for the International Exposition of 1929, which was hosted by Barcelona, Spain. The chair’s frame was formed by steel, with a leather cushion above, giving it a smoother appearance. Since 1953, Knoll Inc. has manufactured the chair and copycats also proliferate worldwide. The prototype exhibit in Shenzhen doesn’t have a leather cushion.

“This exhibition focuses on the historical relationship between designers, manufacturers and users. Visitors will be informed about German design’s evolution from a social perspective,” said Zhang, who works for China Design Museum.

The striking feature of the exhibits is their simple and neat modernist style. Zhang said in the early days of industrial development, to meet the need of mass production, German designers had to adopt a simple style.

“Traditional crafts focused on art while industrial manufacture considered techniques. For mass production, designers needed to solve the integration of techniques and art,” said Zhang. “Although Britain was the frontier of the Industrial Revolution, English Arts and Crafts Movement and English Art Nouveau failed to integrate traditional crafts and industrial mass-production techniques, while Germans made it. Germans believed that the Industrial Revolution was basically a reconstruction of productive relations and would finally benefit the masses.”

The exhibition, with more than 100 pieces of work, covers all important periods of German design’s development, including 1899’s Darmstadt Artists’ Colony, 1907’s Deutscher Werkbund (German Association of Craftsmen) and the Bauhaus school of 1919. The two associations and the school were the driving forces in Germany’s modernism in the early 20th century. Outstanding designers included Peter Behrens, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.

Darmstadt Artists’ Colony was the center of German Art Nouveau and the earliest group of designers to experiment the combination of crafts and techniques. The Deutscher Werkbund was meant to establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design professionals to improve the competitiveness of German companies in global markets. One example was Behrens’ pioneering industrial design works for the German electrical company AEG, which successfully integrated art and mass production on a large scale and developed a consistent corporate identity.

Bauhaus was founded amid the ideas of rational, functional and standardized manufacture. The school was famous for not only the approach to design it taught, but also its experimental workshops which focused on practice.

When Bauhaus was closed under pressure from the Nazi regime, who claimed that it was a center of communist intellectualism, some designers and manufacturers had to leave Germany and immigrated to the United States, which helped take German design concepts to the world.

Apart from showcasing products, the Shenzhen exhibition also displays German efforts in promoting a lifestyle to the world. The Deutscher Werkbund’s motto “from sofa cushions to city-building” indicates the integration of products and life, promoting a better way of living. The association also held a string of renowned industrial design exhibitions, such as the Cologne exhibition in 1914. The acceptance of modernist design into everyday life was the subject of all these publicity campaigns.

In less than 100 years, Germany used clean-lined designs, standardized manufacture and newly developed materials to put itself on a competitive footing in the world.

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Shenzhen Art 1: OCT Art & Design

Having stayed in Shenzhen during the Spring Festival holiday, I decided to play the tourist in my own city. I went from museum to museum, getting my art on and trying to find my own creative inspiration.

It’s been said many times before that Shenzhen has no culture, but we all know that not to be true…

This first installment is the OCT Art & Design Gallery. Featuring various winners of Tokyo’s TDC competitions, all focusing on modern design. At a cost of only 15 to enter, it’s always worth a look!

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Here is an excerpt from my museum article published last year for Shenzhen Daily, concerning OCT Art & Design: http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2013-05/03/content_2466061.htm

(However, note that it may not be up to date)

On the other side of the district, bordering Nanshan, is Overseas Chinese Town, also known as OCT. Rich in creativity and hip design studios, several art galleries are located in the area. Adjacent to Splendid China is one of the best — OCT Art & Design Gallery. The building itself is totally avant-garde, a large black glass building held up by steel hexagons. With a focus on powerful contemporary design and hosted by Tokyo Type Directors Club/TDC, the gallery is full of nominees for their annual prizes. The subject matter is very diverse, including book design, typography, catalogues, record sleeves and other products. The first floor is especially concerned with fonts, and also has video installations featuring music videos by Icelandic pop star Bjork and Japanese rock band Androp. The second floor has posters, newspaper ads, bags, logotype, stationary and packaging, with designers from such countries as Britain, Russia, and Japan. The sparse third floor showcases the winners of the TDC prizes, from 2002 to the present. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The price of admission is 15 yuan (US$2.4), 8 yuan for students. Admission is free for all on Tuesdays.

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