Sculp­tural art ex­hi­bi­tion opens

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai


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.

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