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June 7, 2021

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Exploring evolution through ancient art

The solo exhibition “Pigeon Grass Mallard Palace” by British artist Tom Howse is underway at the Jin Mansion, a century-old residential building in downtown Shanghai.

It’s Howse’s first show in China and Asia, presenting a series of new paintings from the perspectives of the landscape, species and human figures in the introspection and reflection of the current global condition.

Howse’s works feature the calm, beautiful scenery or interior domesticity alongside the vibrant and textural visions of the natural world, portraying people, animals and weird yet wonderful plants in an endless range of shapes and sizes.

An abundance of nature is regularly evident in his paintings, with plants, flowers, shrubs and trees populating both exterior and interior settings. Some plants are real from life, but some are new hybrid forms created by the artist who mixes and matches elements from different types of plant. They exist together as a concoction of real and imagined species.

The instance of windows, which Howse often depicts, is an important element in the paintings. They allow viewers to perceive an image within an image, connecting the two realms and blurring the boundary of reality and fiction.

A diverse range of influences are often discussed in relation to the artist’s practice, including cave painting and craft traditions, such as pottery, quilting and mosaics, which greatly inform the paintings. All of these ancient art forms are the earliest examples of human expression, helping explain people’s origins and evolution — a topic Howse is trying to explore in his art.

The venue Jin Mansion, built in 1924 with Neoclassical and Art Deco architecture, exudes a unique Shanghai-style charm. After a renovation project, the space has just opened to the public dedicated to art exhibitions and cultural events.


Dates: Through July 11 (Closed on Mondays), 11am-6pm

Venue: Jin Mansion

Address: 549 Shaanxi Road N.


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