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January 22, 2010

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Home » Feature » Art and Culture

Still-life cabbages calm worried urban hearts

CALMNESS Is Power," an impressive exhibition of still-lifes, aims to soothe harried urbanites and demonstrate that realistic paintings are still very relevant.

The exhibition is the opening show underway in the Original Song Gallery, which has relocated from the downtown area to the neighborhood of the Shanghai Zoo in Hongqiao area.

It features works by Zhang Zishen, Huang Azhong, Xiaogu, Wu Weixin, Xin Dongwang, Han Juliang, Yin Xiong, He Zhenhao and Qi Xin, all known for their superb realistic technique in still-life painting.

"Because of the increasing stress and burdens for urban people, I really want our 'calm art' to soothe their hearts and souls for a while," says gallery owner Peng Xiaoling. "I also think that traditional realistic art style needs to be recognized."

It's rather brave for Peng to promote the realistic art style at a time when it appears to be somewhat of a cliche, receding from the limelight and competing with contemporary art, installation, video and other art forms.

"But what prevails doesn't equal what matters," Peng says. "Realistic painting has been a tradition for the Chinese people. It is a visual habit."

Today's still-life painters do not merely depict apples and vases; it is critical for them to identify the appropriate subject to mirror modern life and times.

Xin and Zhang stand out.

Zhang's "Miner" series conveys the harsh working conditions and hard lives of China's coal miners by depicting their grimy and battered and attached safety lights. Zhang is in his mid-70s.

Xin, who is in his 40s, captures the life of migrant workers by depicting cabbages with photographic realism.

"Cabbage is the basic vegetable on the tables of the families in northern China," he explains. "Recently I have become addicted to those small details of life that remind me of the warmth and kinship of family."

Date: January 23-March 31, 10am-5pm

Address: 4/F, Bldg 3, 731 Hongxu Rd

Tel: 6465-0045


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