Related News

Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Bruce Lee kicks back at the Expo

KUNG fu icon Bruce Lee - a powerful figure in shining red ceramic - stands on one leg and kicks the other explosively, almost vertically into the air, balancing the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

Forty-nine other bright-red Bruce Lees in identical poses balance landmarks from around the world, such as the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium in Beijing, the Arc de Triomph in Paris, the Sydney Opera House, the post-911 World Trade Center site, the Guggenheim Art Gallery, the British Museum and the Burj Dubai hotel.

The idea is that superhero Lee can lift mighty monuments.

The spectacular kick is called the "Foshan shadowless foot" (Foshan wuyingjiao) because the motion is so fast that it is said to have no shadow. Foshan City in Guangdong Province nurtured Lee and other kung fu masters.

The 50 figures, each around two meters high, are a big draw at the world Expo where they are clustered outside the Pavilion of Future in the Urban Best Practices Area. Visitors can stand next to the master and assume their own poses for photographers.

The statues comprise an art installation, "China Kung Fu," by Shu Yong, the winner of the 2007 Florence Biennale Career Award. It combines sculpture with video and performance art.

All sculptures, and the mini monuments, are made of famous ceramic from Foshan, one of the cradles of Chinese ceramics.

Foshan is also significant because of its kung fu history involving Bruce Lee, Wong Fei-hung and Yip Wen.

The installation was sponsored by 1506 Creative City in Foshan; 1506 refers to the date of the early Foshan kilns.

"Some people challenged me saying that this piece is too aggressive," says Shu. "Those who say that don't have a deep knowledge of Chinese kung fu. Chinese martial arts activate one's inner power through body techniques that harmonize with the outside world.

"The highest level of Chinese kung fu is restrained, self-cultivated and profound rather than arbitrary and aggressive."

The director of 1506 Creative City, Qiu Dalin, says that if visitors don't know the history and background of Foshan, then they cannot truly interpret the sculptures.

"The city is one of the birthplaces of China's ceramics and is also the largest ceramic production area in the world," he said.

Porcelain from Foshan can be seen virtually everywhere in the world.

"But many people don't realize the significance of Foshan. I'm glad this is the first time Foshan ceramics and culture are presented in the spotlight of the World Expo."

Artist Shu Yong says he is connected to Foshan because one of his ceramic works "Flower of Life" was made in Foshan.

"At that time, I searched almost all the kilns in the country but still could not make it. By accident, and with help of Qiu Dalin, I completed the work in Nanfeng Ancient Kiln in Foshan."

He said he began to understand Foshan that once represented a quarter of the world's ceramic production, and he learned its many stories.

So when he thought of a work about Foshan, he thought of Bruce Lee to convey the message.

The task was difficult, involving more than 200 people working for half a year, getting up at 8am and working until 2 or 3am, or even around the clock, said Shu.

"Sometimes I felt like an abusive contractor, but actually I am an artist. Sometimes I felt very confused because I didn't want to be that harsh, but I had to get the work done."

Shu is proud that the statues attract so much attention at the Expo.

"They resonate with the viewers," he said.

"We aim to make exactly 1,506 Bruce Lee sculptures because Nanfang Ancient Kiln in Foshan was built in 1506."

He likes to imagine a touring exhibition of Bruce Lees made in Foshan.

"It would be fascinating to see a cluster of Bruce Lees in front of the White House or the British Museum - both housing Foshan ceramics, a hidden link between these iconic buildings," he said.


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