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Former factory now producing artistic attractions
By Pan Zheng

JIADING is known as a center of culture — home to numerous galleries, art centers and painters villages.

Helping to establish the district’s distinctive artistic credentials are institutions such as Han Tianheng Art Gallery, Lu Yanshao Art Gallery, Shanghai Yachang Art Center, Xinzeyuan Painters Village and Zhou Chunya Contemporary Art Academy.

A recent addition to this list of artistic hotspots is the Jiayuanhai Art Center in the Malu Grape Cultural and Art Village.

Focus on artworks

The art center is located in a renovated old factory building and has two sections — the artists center and the exhibition hall.

Its 4.6 hectares includes 6,500 square meters of exhibition space, art studios and supporting facilities for artists in their daily lives.

The predominant color scheme is gray, providing a neutral background that allows full attention to focus on the artworks on display.

Jiayuanhai’s comprehensive exhibition facilities have proved popular with many artists.

Exhibitions there cover everything from traditional painting and calligraphy to modern sculpture and the works of foreign artists. Celebrated works by artists past and present are shown in the exhibition hall.

Most recently on show were oil paintings by contemporary artist Gu Bing, impressing many visitors to the Tibet Art Exhibition.

Gu’s hometown is located along the Silk Road, and he has deep feeling for Gansu Province’s Dunhuang culture, which is closely associated with the ancient trade route. Gu found inspiration in folk culture for his “Hoh Xil Painting Album.”

The 1,000-square-meter exhibition hall features two floors for various cultural activities. It encourages original, international and academic exhibitions to promote the development of Chinese contemporary art, say officials.

Meanwhile, the artists center is designed to attract foreign and domestic artists and exhibition organizers. To date, six artists’ studios have settled at the center.

Artists, cultural figures and international art institutions are also invited to hold academic events at the center.

In addition, Jiayuanhai has a painting pavilion and invites teachers from the China Academy of Art and Art College of Shanghai University to hold courses on the arts for all ages.

Visitors can also enjoy refreshments at the coffee house at the art center, which sometimes holds small performances as well.

Jiayuanhai Art Center

Address: 18 Dazhi Rd, Malu Town

Opening hours: Daily, 10am-4:30pm

Tel: 5951-3500

Current and upcoming exhibitions

2014 Young Artists Invitation Exhibition

Date: Through August 10

Exhibition of Paintings and Calligraphy by Qian Xingjian

Date: August 16-24

Dezhen was born in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region in 1976. As she was shy and introverted as a child, when she was nine, Dezhen’s parents took her to Lhasa People’s Art Gallery to learn how to paint and also to meet other children. However, they didn’t expect that one of their daughter’s early drawings would win third prize in a national contest. In 1994, Dezhen went to Tibet University to study painting. She is now a member of the China Artists’ Association.

Several years ago, when Chinese paintings on the theme of Tibet were exhibited in Rome and Milan, Dezhen was the only Chinese female artist featured, and her work attracted widespread attention and praise.

Dezhen has a strong sense of social responsibility plus a colorful inner world, which are apparent in her work. Creatures such as snakes, birds and yaks often appear in Dezhen’s work, as she loves animals and calls on people to protect them through her paintings. In one painting, Dezhen painted the Mona Lisa holding a yak. “Mona Lisa is a popular symbol, and a perfect choice to promote animal protection,” Dezhen said.

He Diqiu was born in 1972 in Hubei Province, graduating from Hubei Academy of Art, majoring in sculpture, in 1998. He also completed a postgraduate course at the China Central Academy of Fine Art in 2004. He now lives in Shanghai and is a well-known figure in sculpting circles.

Among his influences is classic cartoon “Tom and Jerry,” particularly the scenes where feisty mouse Jerry’s body stretches as he tries to evade Tom the cat. In He’s works, the bodies of characters are also elongated, which produces a comic effect.

One of He’s most acclaimed works is “Sleepwalking,” which was influenced by domestic news in 2008. He observed that in many cases people who outwardly appeared like responsible members of society — pleasant-looking and well-groomed — were responsible for violent acts. As a comment on this, in “Sleepwalking” He created a amiable-looking young man wearing a business suit and glasses, but also holding a gun.

On entering Zhuang Nanming’s Sanyitang Studio in Jiayuanhai Art Center, the first thing to catch the eye is a large table about 2.5 meters long and over a meter wide. Spread on the table are old calligraphy works and paintings, waiting to undergo a traditional artwork mounting process.

Mounting artworks is key to preserving Chinese calligraphy and paintings. Thanks to this skill, many ancient masterpieces can still be seen by art lovers today.

Zhuang established the studio out of a deep love of the craft, and hopes that this traditional art can be passed on to future generations. However, according to Zhuang, nowadays most mounting work is done by machine, since this only takes two hours. In contrast, hand-made mounting requires up to eight days’ work.

Zhuang says machine mounting bonds the artwork and the backing paper with plastic film through a heating process. But this means that the piece cannot be taken out, so if mold forms on the artwork, it cannot be mounted again. However, if the mounting is done manually, the picture can be restored again and again, says Zhuang.

Born in 1972 in Sichuan Province, Gu Bing graduated from the Northwest University for Nationalities, majoring in oil painting, in 1994. Then in 2002, he earned a masters degree from the China Central Academy of Fine Art, majoring in print.

Gu grew up in the Silk Road region and was influenced by Dunhuang culture. He works in various medium — including oils, ink, printmaking, sketching and watercolor. Gu’s works have been collected by art galleries in Beijing, Guangdong, Hubei and Shanghai. He has also held a solo exhibition “Wind Bell in Hoh Xil” and published two books, “Gu Bing’s Painting Collection of the Tibetan Plateau” and “Hoh Xil Painting Album.”

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