Sculptural art exhibition opens
Art lovers can now admire works by artists from seven countries at the biannual Shanghai Jing’an International Sculpture Project (JISP) which runs till Nov 20.
The fourth edition of the JISP, which kicked off at Jing’an Sculpture Park on Sept 20, is an exhibition hosted by the Jing’an district of Shanghai and the Purple Roof Art Gallery. Twenty four artists, 10 from abroad and 14 from China, have been invited to showcase a total of 45 sculptural art works.
The star of this year’s exhibition is American artist Steve Tobin who has 48 of his works on show in the outdoor exhibition area. He also has another solo exhibition that is being held in a special hall within the park. According to Tobin, eight freight containers were required to transport the huge body of work to Shanghai.
A long-time admirer of Chinese art and culture, Tobin chose his Cathedral Roots sculpture — a metallic structure resembling the roots of a tree and which embodies the Chinese character ren, which means people — as his centerpiece for the Shanghai event. The artist also spoke of his love for China’s calligraphy art and explained how each curve in his Steel Root series was his way of paying homage to the Chinese art form.
The 59-year artist from Pennsylvania is renowned for drawing inspiration from nature. One of his best-known creations is Trinity Root which can today be found in front of the Trinity Church in New York. The art work is a bronze sculpture of the stump and roots of a particular sycamore tree that shielded the St. Paul’s Chapel from damage during the Sept 11 terror attacks in New York.
“Art is like nature — it comes alive from the viewer. My challenge is to invite everybody, from children to even those with no art education, to understand and appreciate every piece I make,” said Tobin.
Some of the large sculptures from previous editions have become permanent exhibits in the Jing’an Sculpture Park. British artist Alex Rinsler created a giant straw fox for JISP in 2014 and the piece was so well-received that Rinsler decided to re-build it for this year’s exhibition again.
The 7-meter-tall sculpture features bird nests on either side of its body. Video cameras are installed within these nests to record the moments when birds fly in and the footage can be used for science education at the Shanghai Natural History Museum which is located right next to the park, said Zhu Jie, a guide for the JISP exhibition.
Last year, Shanghai’s Zhabei district became a part of Jing’an, expanding the latter significantly. Consequently, the JISP has extended its exhibition into the new territory, placing sculptures at the Ming Museum of Contemporary Art and Daning Park in the northern part of Jing’an.
Mao Wencai, president of the Purple Roof Art Gallery, said that the gallery would be looking to bring in a wider variety of works in future installments of the exhibition. Purple Roof has since 2010 been working together with officials from the district office to host JISP.
Mao added that presenting art exhibitions in the park is very different from doing so in a gallery or museum.
“Audiences are prepared when they visit a museum, but the park is open to all. It’s very important that we should engage the public…we have to try our best to bring good art to people without any artistic training,” she said.
American artist Steve Tobin poses with an artwork from his SteelRoots series as his 8-year-old son, Milo, takes a photo.