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April 9, 2010

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Female artists tell stories

FOUR female artists, including American Barbara Edelstein, are presenting a joint show, titled "Story," at Mingyuan Art Center through April 28.

The other artists are Kim Mihyang, Zhu Weibing and Wang Yuhong, all from Shanghai.

Edelstein, who says she is influence by her Chinese artist husband Zhang Jianjun, takes trees as the subject of many of her ink-wash paintings and other multimedia works incorporating bark and leaves.

"To me, a tree is a personage, a being and an individual," says Edelstein. "When its branches are cut, it feels that its arms have been cut. But when I use these branches in my artwork, I am giving them new life and growing new leaves for them."

Trees are powerful symbols around the world, such as the tree of life, tree of knowledge and wishing tree.

"A tree connects the earth and the air, half the tree is in the earth and half is in the sky," she says. "One of the charming things about Shanghai is the number of trees here. It makes the citymore liveable."

Her husband Zhang has been a powerful influence and many of his works have an Oriental feeling.

"Although our work is different, we trust each other aesthetically, and have completed a number of collaborative artworks together," she says.

A young artist, Zhu works in textiles and addresses contemporary themes.

Her work, "The Growth of the Stroller," uses commonly found cloth materials to depict a baby in a stroller, but the child is totally obscured by toys, cards and flowers all piled on him or her.

The message is clear: Children are loaded down by their parents' and grandparents ambitions and hopes for them.

High expectations from the time of birth put enormous pressure on children to succeed and many are lonely and overwhelmed, Zhu seems to say. Their parents commonly say they don't want their children to "lose the race at the starting line."

Zhu is trained in fashion design and carefully chooses soft fabrics that represent solid objects. "Cloth is a perfect medium for me - it is soft and can be made into anything."

Her works conjure up humorous or nostalgic scenarios.

Artist Wang is known for her superb, subtle technique and poignant creation of still-lifes. Many include antiques or items from the old days, such as the famed milky White Rabbit candies made in Shanghai.

In recent years, Wang has combined installation and video work with her canvasses.

"I feel my paintings are expanded in content when seen alongside other media," she says.

Wang created a piece especially for this exhibition.

"The title of the exhibition is 'Story,' and I am trying to tell a story of my own," Wang says.

A round canvas depicts an old biscuit box, hot-water bottle, old ceramic teapot and several old magazines loosely scattered on a table - against a menacing, volcano-like background.

Under the painting itself is "a small mountain of candies" - White Rabbit candies, a household name in Shanghai.

"I am sure you remember the strong milky flavor," Wang says. "It was made in Shanghai and nearly every Chinese longed for White Rabbit candy," she says. "It is an icon of our childhood when material life was so limited, but looking back on the old days, no one would recall a harsh childhood.

"I don't have to explain too much about the meanings hidden in my works," she says.

Some people say she is too limited in creating nostalgic works for the post-1970s generation, and she acknowledges that there are special feelings of her generation that can only be appreciated by her peers.

Date: through April 28 (closed on Mondays), 10am-4pm

Address: 1199 Fuxing Rd M.

Tel: 6472-5597


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