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Art

Impasto Oil Paintings by Li Songsong Explore Historical Events as Cultural Artifacts

November 1, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Civil Rather than Military” (2018), oil on canvas, 82-11/16 × 102-3/8 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

Li Songsong uses dramatic textural repetition to create portraiture and landscapes in his large-scale oil paintings. The Chinese artist often centers visual narratives around historical events of the 20th century, working from found photographs and news images. In some instances, the story becomes more personal, as in “Civil Rather Than Military”, which depicts Songsong’s grandfather. In a statement about the work provided by Pace Gallery, Songsong shared:

I started this painting a month after my grandfather passed away. It’s from a photograph of him that I think was taken in the early1960s, when he was about my current age. I know what kind of person he was, but not until this year was I really willing to think deeply about him. I used a technique in which it is nearly impossible to paint delicate details, but in the end, the work still ended up with lots of expressive detail and an almost idealized quality, as if from a fairy-tale.

In both his intimate and anonymous paintings, Songsong balances content with process, employing tactile techniques that obscure the subject and emphasize the painting as an object or artifact in and of itself. Take a closer look at Songsong’s work in his solo show “One of My Ancestors”, on view through December 21, 2019 at Pace Gallery in New York City. You can also explore more of the artist’s work on the gallery’s website.

“Civil Rather than Military” detail

“Tempest” (2019), oil on canvas, 10′ 2 1/16 × 12′ 5 5/8 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

“South” (2017), oil on canvas, 10′ 9-15/16 x 8’ 6-3/8 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

Pace Gallery installation view

“My Homeland” (2004), oil on canvas, 82-2/3 x 165-1/3 inches © Li Songsong

“Taoyuan Airport” (2008) © Li Songsong

“Dog Walking (II)” (2015), oil on aluminum panel, 94-1/2 × 13′ 1-1/2 × 4-15/16 inches © Li Songsong, courtesy Pace Gallery

 

 



Design

A Dyed Wool Cloak Made From Scratch in the Chinese Countryside by Li Ziqi

August 21, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Li Ziqi (previously) presents pastoral glimpses into daily life on her farm in the countryside of China through her Youtube channel. She records common projects and necessities with precision and care, often focusing on the tasks needed to created a multi-course traditional meal or demonstrating the ways she prepares for the region’s harsh winters. In a video from earlier this year, Li walks her audience through the steps of knitting and dying a floor-length purple cloak with wool sourced from a neighboring farm. The five-minute film follows her journey across the snow-strewn mountains, watches as she inspects and brushes out the gathered wool, and features cameos by a few puppies and a very tiny lamb. You can view more snippets from her life on Facebook and Youtube. (via swissmiss)

 

 



Design

Mirrored Ceilings and Criss-Crossed Stairwells Give a Chinese Bookstore the Feeling of an M.C. Escher Woodcut

May 16, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Zhongshuge bookstores, designed by Shangai-based architecture firm X+Living, feature incredible rooms coveted by book and illusion lovers alike. Each location in this chain of Chinese bookstores has uniquely designed spaces with reflective elements that immerse guests in parallel environments. In the Chongqing branch, criss-crossing staircases and a mirrored ceiling double the room for an effect that seems straight out of an M.C. Escher woodcut or an infinite Indian stepwell.

In the Yangzhou location, each book-filled room also features mirrors, but many are found on the floors rather than ceiling. These glassy elements are meant to appear like mirages, a reference to the city’s canals, rivers, and lakes. You can take a quick peek inside the Yangzhou-based location in the video by Great Big Story below. To view more of the Zhongshuge libraries, visit X+Living’s website. (via Design You Trust)

 

 



Art

Hand-Painted Ceramics of Everyday Objects Inspired by Classical Chinese Paintings

March 11, 2019

Anna Marks

Photo by Wan Liya

Photo by Wan Liya

Chinese artist Wan Liya paints natural sceneries inspired by traditional Chinese paintings onto ceramics of contemporary household items. Soda bottles and soap dispensers become highly decorative objects, blurring the line between traditional and contemporary craft.

Each piece has its own detailed illustration—some feature birds perching upon blossomed trees, while others depict rugged mountainous forms. However, when the objects are arranged together, they compose a larger picture. The images are inspired by Wang Ximeng’s 12th-century painting One Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains, a large piece depicting mountains and lakes meticulously painted on Chinese silk.

“The idea of this installation work is based on one of the top ten [most classic] paintings in Chinese art history,” says Wan. “The Emperor Song Hui Zong liked [Wang Ximeng] very much and called him into the imperial palace and taught him personally when he was 18 years old. He died when he was 21 years old. Now, this is the only painting by him left.”

Influenced by Wang Ximeng’s skill and craft, Wan Liya reinvents his traditional Chinese style by placing the imagery onto contemporary objects, elevating the meaning and beauty of ordinary, everyday items. To view more of his work visit the China Design Centre’s online gallery and visit Wan’s website.

China Design Centre, photo by Phoebe Guo

China Design Centre, photo by Phoebe Guo

China Design Centre, photo by Phoebe Guo

China Design Centre, photo by Phoebe Guo

Photo by Wan Liya

Photo by Wan Liya

China Design Centre, photo by Phoebe Guo

China Design Centre, photo by Phoebe Guo

Photo by Wan Liya

Photo by Wan Liya

 

 



Documentary

Commodity City: A Fascinating Glimpse Inside the World’s Largest Wholesale Market

May 15, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

The Yiwu International Trade Market in China is the world’s largest wholesale market, stretching nearly five miles and containing over 75,000 individual vendors. Chinese-American film director Jessica Kingdon peeks into the daily lives of the market’s workers in her observational documentary Commodity City, exploring the subtle interactions that occur amongst hoards of dolls, flowers, neon signs, clocks, and other consumer goods.

The work is filmed in long, static shots, mirroring the days each vendor spends inside the consumer metropolis. Commodity City has played in over fifty film festivals, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Cinema Eye Honors. The Brooklyn-based director received her BA in Film Studies from Columbia University and her MA in Media Studies from The New School. In 2017, she was named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine. You can see more of the short films Kingdon has produced and directed on her website and Vimeo. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)

 

 



Photography

A Rare Glimpse at a Deserted Great Wall of China Captured by Andres Gallardo Albajar

April 19, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

This past February architectural photographer Andres Gallardo Albajar traveled to the Great Wall of China where he was able to take in a rare sight—one of the seven wonders of the world without a single soul to be seen. Albajar had expected to create the same tourist-filled images as others who visited the architectural feat, however when he arrived he found a thick fog encapsulating the structure. The dense cover may have been a deterrent for tourists, but this particular weather added further mystery to the deserted landscape Albajar captured in this recent series.

“I was expecting big amounts of people, even lines to access or things like that, but for my surprise there was very few people, which allowed me to capture the wall with no people, which in my opinion helps to create a more surreal and magic feeling,” Albajar tells Colossal.

You can view more of the Spanish photographer’s work, including his multi-part series on urban geometry, on his website, Instagram, and Behance.

 

 



Photography

An Aerial Tour of an Abandoned Chinese Fishing Village by Joe Nafis

April 18, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

The small fishing village of Houtouwan on the Chinese island of Shengshan has been abandoned since the 1990’s. Due to increased competition with nearby Shanghai and a depleted fishing supply, residents were forced to find work in other towns, leaving their own coastal village to the whim of Mother Nature.

Today the ghost town is only visited by tourists curious to see the vine-wrapped homes and other buildings swallowed by untamed greenery. Shanghai-based photographer and videographer Joe Nafis visited the area last year with fellow photographer Dave Tacon. It took them nearly 36 hours to reach the village due to lack of ferries or connection with other towns in the area. Once in town, Nafis explored the area on foot, as well as from above with his drone.

“Using the drone to explore the village first was a good idea as the paths were not well maintained and overgrown,” Nafis tells Colossal. “Some of the buildings were in tatters, while others looked like they were going through a remodel. It was all very strange. On the Sunday there were a few tourists, about ten to fifteen, and then on Monday we were the only people in the village other than the three to four that still lived there.”

You can view drone footage from the photographer’s visit to the overgrown village in the video below. He recently released an aerial time lapse video focusing on Shanghai’s urban development over the last seven years on his website, and more video-based projects by Nafis can be found on his Instagram and Vimeo. (via This Isn’t Happiness)