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Public art that charms us, amuses and makes us think

PUBLIC art is intended for the public but there's not many public sculptures in Shanghai and few outdoor sculpture exhibitions because of limited space and difficulties of transport and installation.

Now the Jing'an International Sculpture Exhibition titled "City Fantasy" lets the public see the art that's intended for them, and it's simple, relaxed and sometimes humorous. "Better City, Better Life," the Expo theme, calls for an urban environment that includes art.

The exhibition sponsored by the Jing'an District government is underway through October 31 at the Jing'an Sculpture Park and nine diverse satellite venues - Moller Villa, Jing'an Villa, Eddington House, 800 show, Wheelock Square, Jiuguang Department Store, Park Place, Jing'an Park and Plaza 66.

It features 68 sculptures by 31 artists from eight countries.

The two curators are Huang Du, an independent domestic curator and art critic, and Menene Gras Balaguer, director for culture and exhibitions of Casa Asia of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Huang says the aim of the exhibition is to analyze and interpret issues of modern public art and aesthetic education, historical memory and daily experience.

"Unlike urban European culture, Shanghai urban culture has overlapping colonial, revolutionary, and new modern culture," he says.

The theme "City Fantasy" includes "memory," "life" and "fantasy."

"Girouette Monumentale" by Philippe Hiquily from France incorporates the essence of traditional Chinese paper-cutting techniques.

The solid triangle base is rooted in the earth. The wind vane on the top is presented in simple shapes, letting the wind currents - like basic life force or qi - flow around and within the solid and elegant base. The wind-capture structure reaches upward like a ship's sail in the wind.

Another intriguing sculpture titled "L'Envol" is a male figure in simple lines, wearing a hat and looking upward. The work by Jean-Michel Folon from Belgium evokes the man in the crowd, stressed and taking a brief moment to lift his eyes and perhaps imagine himself a bird in flight.

"We have arranged different works in different situations and spaces to demonstrate openness, inclusiveness and diversity," says Huang.

Most artists adopt a concise artistic language that helps build intimacy and communication the public. "Whether it is pop or conceptual language, minimalist or abstract in style, these works combine serious cultural analysis with relaxed visual pleasure and a sense of humor," says the curator.

These sculptures seem to slip into our surroundings without notice and change the atmosphere of an ordinary street, a historical building or a busy shopping mall.

Date: through October 31

Venue: Jing'an Sculpture Park, 127 Datian Rd


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