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June 3, 2011

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Folk arts for the heart at Baoshan

TRADITIONAL ink-wash painter Yang Zhengxin has depicted China's revolutionary struggle through energetic ink-wash landscapes of great scenes and renderings of simple objects like a lantern and book, a simple house, even humble fare.

Titled "The Route of Red Revolution," his works are on display at the Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Arts Exposition through July 10.

Born in 1942 in Shanghai's Baoshan District, Yang devoted himself to traditional Chinese ink wash for almost half a century, using his right hand and winning many awards. He later decided to switch to his left hand to create his own series titled "The Route of Red Travel."

"I am a Party member and without the Chinese Communist Party I am nobody," says Yang.

Some people think he has exploited the "red revolution" theme, but he says he only wants to show the real sacred places of the revolution.

In October 2010, Yang set out to visit memorable places in the history of China's revolution, such as Jinggangshan Mountain, Yan'an, Changshu, Jiaxing and others.

The wall-sized painting "Ying Shan Hong" (Red Azaleas) is one of Yang's favorites and is placed on the right side of the exhibition hall.

"Personally, it is my favorite because I got inspiration from the famous movie 'Sparkling Red Star,' and in the movie red azaleas represent the blaze of revolutionary spirit."

The Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Arts Exposition is held in Gucun Park at the junction of Hutai Road and the Outer Ring Road.

The exposition hall covers more than 14,600 meters.

The design for the exposition-museum construction was inspired by the Chinese knot, and the structure is now a landmark of Baoshan and a symbol of folk culture.

The two-story exposition building covers more than 3,000 square meters and contains eight halls on the first floor: Preface Hall, Baoshan Hall, China Hall, Europe and America Hall, Latin America Hall, Asia-Pacific Hall, Middle East Hall and Africa Hall.

The second floor contains six halls; they showcase Nepalese culture and customs, a retrospective of traditional Chinese paintings, Baoshan historical relics, a collection of porcelain and a collection of tea sets.

The exposition hall is a non-profit public cultural facility that not only preserves and displays folk art but also conducts research into intangible cultural heritage; these are also displayed and demonstrated.

It is involved in communication and education about cultural heritage.

The first floor also contains a multifunctional hall for large gatherings and international meetings as well as space for small workshops and forums.

One of the most unusual exhibits is the te kakano, a Maori canoe placed at the entrance. It was a gift from New Zealand during the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

A huge dragon boat model stands in the Preface Hall.

It was made using traditional wood carving techniques.

It is the reproduction of a real local boat and features detailed carving of a dragon head at the bow, its tail at the stern.

There are also carved waves that lap against the hull of the boat.

The exposition features many interactive activities.

Traditional Chinese musical instruments are suspended from the ceiling, as are glass tubes containing colorful balls that move with the rhythm of the music.

A popular activities for people of all ages is the tou hu game, also known as throwing the arrow into the pot.

The ancient game was popular among scholar bureaucrats and people can play on the first floor with a large interactive screen.

The Asia-Pacific Hall contains a pavilion for the tea ceremony, a music pavilion and a weaving pavilion.

When a visitor waves a hand in front of old-fashioned spinning and weaving machines, silk and textiles appear immediately.

In the Middle East Hall visitors can step aboard Aladdin's Magic Carpet and enjoy a fantasy trip.

There's also a raree or peep show, known as xi yang jing that originated in Beijing in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The entertainment is contained in a box and usually involves a story teller who talks, sings and plays traditional Chinese folk instruments, such a drum, gong and small cymbals.

For Hillbilly Cat fans, there is one wall of Hillbilly Cat's pictures in the Europe and America Hall, where phantom imaging techniques enable fans to get up close and personal with their star.

Baoshan International Folk Arts Museum

Location: 4788 Hutai Rd (inside Gucun Park)

Opening Hours: 9am-4pm from Tuesday to Sunday

Contact: 5604-2007

How to get there: Take Metro Line 7 and get off at Gucun Park Station


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