Related News

Home » Feature

The man behind the big magnet for the big, big building

A super-tall landmark skyscraper deserves a super-tall piece of landmark public art.

And the 492-meter, 101-story Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong this month unveiled a magnetic installation at its entrance: a 17.5-meter-high red-and-blue steel magnet. The monster sculpture of a magnet is 12.1 meters wide and 1.34 meters thick.

The inverted, tilted horseshoe magnet is called "Global Magnet," drawing the world's talent and business to the Lujiazui financial zone.

It has also drawn mixed reviews.

The building, sometimes called the Mori Building, is considered the world's third-tallest building, though definitions of "tallest" change as buildings go up around the world. It was opened last August by the developer, the Mori Building Co of Japan.

The man behind the magnet is renowned Chinese contemporary artist Liu Jianhua who was asked by the Mori Art Museum to submit several proposals for an art installation in front of "a high-rise in Pudong."

It was January 2007 that the renowned Japanese art museum contacted 47-year-old Liu, one of a number of invited famous artists from China and around the world.

The magnet symbolizes the powerful attraction of the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone.

Nanjo Fumio, director of the Mori Art Museum, calls the word "excellent public art that fully takes the environment and the location into account. It will not only improve the ambience of the community but also become an icon and a noted work of art."

"Global Magnet" has drawn mixed reviews from the public.

"I don't like it very much," says a 30-something office lady surnamed Wu. "It's too simple and straightforward, not a surprise at all. I wanted to see a piece that is more subtle."

It's so big and out-there, not at all like museum art.

A successful public art installation requires a grasp of many factors, such as harmony with its surroundings, its durability in bad weather and its likely appeal to ordinary passersby.

Many residents complain about a lot of public art in Shanghai, saying the works are not attractive, interesting or imposing. Many are simple geometric shapes that lack artistic value.

"If you think it's just a simple piece, you would be wrong," says artist Liu. "Do you know how difficult and complicated it was to make a 500-ton sculpture?"

Liu says the difficulty seemed unimaginable at first.

"The simpler the line, the more difficult the technique," he says, noting he shuttled between the factory and his studio.

Liu was impressed by the working attitude of his Japanese team that included the distinguished 70-year-old engineer especially summoned to supervise on site.

In addition to "Global Magnet," Liu's "Regular Fragile" - ordinary items in fiber glass - is on permanent display on the 92nd floor of the skyscraper.

"I don't feel any different after this challenging project," Liu says. "I treat it as just another artwork."

The magnet design was chosen over around 10 other proposals by Liu, including a huge droplet of water and an upright ruler.

"I personally liked the water dropping from the sky," says Liu, "but that would have posed many technical issues."

Born in 1962 in Ji'an, Jiangxi Province, Liu first worked as an apprentice in the famous Jingdezhen Pottery and Porcelain Sculpting Factory when he was 15. Later he studied in the fine arts department of the Jingdezhen Pottery and Porcelain College.

Liu is most famous internationally for his innovative use of ceramics in contemporary art. He recreates daily items in porcelain and is noted for ceramic dishes of food, on which he positions shapely, headless ladies in qipao.

"Working in ceramics is in my blood, but I don't want to be labeled simply as a ceramist. For me, media is not that important, what is important is how to convey serious observations about art and life through a particular medium."

His experimental works include "Export-Cargo Transit," featuring piles of exported rubbish, at the Shanghai Gallery of Art in Three on the Bund. He also reproduces in ceramics the world-famous small commodities manufactured in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, and exported around the world.

"I love to unveil the possibilities in art with different approaches," the artist says.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend