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July 16, 2021

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Young embrace Chinoiserie style

Chinoiserie — a unique Chinese artistic style — has taken over from America’s transformers and Japan’s Gundam at this year’s China International Cartoon & Game Expo.

The 17th China International Cartoon & Game Expo kicked off yesterday at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center.

While there are Transformers in America and Gundam in Japan, China is creating its own iconic mecha — fascinating mythical creatures from ancient China incorporated with robotic elements.

People dressed in Han ethnic clothing walking around stalls decorated as traditional Chinese buildings and gardens is a common sight.

In particular, NetEase’s light-blogging website LOFTER put up a traditional Chinese pavilion, and it has become an Internet hotspot among these Han clothing fans.

The pavilion is adorned with beautiful antique ornaments such as white walls, upturned eaves and round archways, with traditional Chinese dancing performance on offer.

Lulu, 25, dressed as Zhou Zishu, a main character in the Chinese costume drama “Word of Honor,” appreciates the close relationship between two main characters.

“I came to find those people dressed as the other main characters. I hope to meet and make friends with them,” she said, as she hopes to recreate scenes in the drama with people of the same taste to experience being in the drama.

Hundreds of Chinoiserie works by LOFTER artists such as illustrators Cao Gousheng and Lu He are displayed in the booth.

“These young artists, mostly born after 1995, are good at interpreting the essence of traditional art and culture with their own style,” said Peng Yanyan, head of the marketing department of LOFTERS.

“They inject new blood to Chinese costume dramas through paintings, photos and other ways as to express their love for and dedication to pass on traditional Chinese culture.”

Lu He, with nearly 230,000 followers on the website, has gained wide popularity for painting posters for Hollywood blockbuster “The Shape of Water” and China’s animated film “Big Fish & Begonia.”

“For Chinese, we are fond of our traditional Chinese culture deep from our heart. Especially, I love the traditional Chinese ideology that’s just the same as human beings.

“Everything in the world has spirit,” he said.

According to him, Chinese ink wash painting provides a perfect introduction to traditional Chinese culture. So, he has combined traditional Chinese painting with modern watercolor painting in his work.

“Traditional culture is increasingly accepted. More people are dressed in Han clothes and more Chinoiserie elements are used in products and designs. It’s more like an ever-growing cultural feature of China,” he said. “It’s a matter of national confidence.”

Cao, whose real name is Cai Hangkai, agrees.

He thinks it’s not just a short-term frenzy among the young.

“We feel proud of our culture, and we are using modern languages and advanced technologies to interpret our culture,” he said.

Cao admits the difficulty of promoting traditional Chinese culture.

“Our culture is extensive and profound, and the young generation may feel it hard to get sometimes. Not to mention foreigners,” he said.

“For me, one of today’s young artists, I think it’s important for us to understand our own culture, and then use international artistic expression to make the world see the charm of Chinese culture.”

“In my latest work inspired by the Dunhuang frescoes, I carefully studied the clothes of the figures and extracted some elements from their clothing,” he said, referring to the famous Mogao Buddhist grottoes.

Now, with more than 30,000

ollowers on the website, he hopes to better promote Dunhuang culture and art.

“It’s more than flying apsaras and our classic animation Nine-Colored Deer,” he said.

According to statistics by LOFTER, “Chinoiserie” is one of the highest-ranking interest labels on the platform, with more than 15 million views of the works related to the Chinese-style dress, more than 4 million views of the works related to Chinese style photography, 2 million views of works related to Chinese art, and 308,000 views of works related to Chinese literature.

Peng said the younger generations have strong national pride and cultural confidence, which contributes greatly to the popularity of Chinese art and culture.

“Our young generations are willing to carry forward the traditional cultural elements of Chinese-style films and TV dramas, so that more and more TV drama and film fans of this kind can understand and inherit traditional Chinese culture,” she said.


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