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Young artists see the world

A large national exhibit by promising young artists encourages them to "Openly Express" their true and independent views. The impressive show of 267 works is the Shanghai Youth Biennial. Wang Jie visits. Award-winning works by promising young artists from around China are exhibited in "Openly Express, 2009 Shanghai Youth Biennial" underway at Liu Haisu Art Museum and Ming Yuan Art Center.

The art museum show runs through Friday, while the art center exhibition runs through November 20.

The 267 works were selected from among 3,406 candidates, displaying a high degree of creativity and technical skills.

The aim is to give exposure to the best in Chinese art, and maybe Chinese Picassos-to-be.

This is the 10th year of the biennial in Liu Haisu Art Museum.

"This year's theme 'Openly Express' encourages young people to express their true feelings toward our era through their independent vision and thoughts," says Zhang Jian, vice director of the Liu Haisu Art Museum.

Works in many media are presented: oil, traditional ink-wash, sculpture, photography, installation and other media.

Most belong to mainstream or academic art.

The first prize went to "Fatigued Girl," an oil portrait of a staring girl that is so realistic that it appears to be a photograph. The work by Yang Jiannan from Tianjin was described by the jury as "a work with super realism."

In the startling work, Yang uses the photo-realistic style popular at the beginning of the 1970s, deliberately concealing the personality, emotions and attitudes of the artist himself.

The fatigue experienced in fast-paced urban life is amplified through the young woman's wide, lifeless eyes, conjuring an aura of indifference.

"I try to reflect a real glimpse of metropolitan life," says Yang, citing "the pressure of purchasing an apartment at a steep price, the heavy workload of white-collar workers' inner unease."

A sculpture by Wang Lei, titled "Alien Race," depicts a school of white fish wearing lipstick and clinging clothes. They rush to be fed by a drip of saline. A thermometer shows the temperature is close to 37 degrees Celsius.

The message: People living in a worsening environment of climate change are akin to these abnormal fish.

"The term 'youth' in Youth Biennial doesn't just refer to a biological or chronological age, but to the mentality and way of living of this group," says Wan Xin, a curator. "They exhibit vitality and sullenness, sincerity and cunning.

"Of course, it is impossible for such a grand national exhibition to fully express the rapid growth of maturity of young artists and their overall shift in the past 10 years," he says. "But we really try to approach them and communicate with them via this exhibition."

Date: through October 30, 9am-4pm

Venue: Liu Haisu Art Museum, 1660 Hongqiao Rd

Date: through November 20, 9am-4pm

Venue: Ming Yuan Art Center, 1199 Fuxing Rd M.


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