The story appears on

Page A4

April 7, 2018

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Searching for ‘lost childhood’ in Shanghai

FRENCH street artist Julien Seth Malland mixes nostalgic Chinese scenes of hopscotch, swings, birdcages, old-fashioned bicycles and colorful buildings into his murals in Shanghai’s old lanes.

Photos of his murals and sculptures are on display at MoCA Shanghai as part of a solo exhibition that pays tribute to the Shanghai of the 1980s and 1990s. The exhibition, entitled “Like Child’s Play,” is running until Monday.

A lion-headed man plays ball in one scene, which is situated at the entrance of an old lane set among Shanghai’s historic shikumen (stone gate) alleyway houses.

“This reminds me of my childhood. I was running and jumping in the shabby old lanes. It really surprised me to learn that the artist is from France,” says visitor Zhu Yihua, who was born in the 1970s.

Born in Paris in 1972, Malland is better known by the name Seth Globepainter. He has been touring the world and working with local street artists since 2003, making art in more than 50 countries and regions.

“While wandering in Shanghai, I noticed that many old neighborhoods are making way for skyscrapers, and the city is busy transforming itself into a modern one. But, as an artist, I would like to remind my audience to pause in their steps and search for beautiful memories instead,” Seth says.

Seth became popular in Shanghai in the winter of 2014, when he worked with Chinese artist Shi Zheng on the painting “Sleeping Chinese Beauties,” inspired by a classic Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) poem. Photos of the painting, located on the wall of a partially demolished house in Shanghai, spread quickly via Chinese social media app WeChat.

“When you gaze at Seth’s work, you can imagine the narrow streets becoming the playground for neighborhood kids again. By exploring local culture, Seth invites people to escape reality and rediscover the place through the eyes of a child,” says Cao Bin, curator of the exhibition.

Most of the figures in Seth’s paintings are children drawn in a hybrid style that combines modern and traditional forms.

In recent years, Seth has continued to create art in Shanghai, including a painting on a farm house in the village of suburban Qingpu District. In 2017, he painted a 46-meter-high mural in Yangpu District of Shanghai, the tallest mural in Asia. It depicts a girl playing the piano on a tree.

Seth says he plans to bring the Shanghai-themed art to his future exhibitions and also plans to visit more inland Chinese regions, such as Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southwest China and northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, to create his art.

“I feel like racing against time to capture the culture of rural China, which is undergoing unprecedented urbanization,” he says.

He says street art can bring local people amusement and confidence in their own culture.


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