Public art is the lifeblood of one of the world’s foremost cultural hubs.
From 26 September to 31 December 2020, the historical and cultural heart of Shanghai, the Shanghai Jing’an Sculpture Park (JISP), brings the worlds of nature and design together by hosting the fifth edition of the Jing’an International Sculpture Project.
The city’s biennial sculpture exhibition was launched in Jing’an in 2008. Since then, sculpture has become an ever more distinguishing feature of the district’s urban landscape. Organised by the Jing’an District Government and curated with the Purple Roof Art Gallery, the project is an ongoing endeavour to introduce world-renowned international artists to the local community.
The Creative Minds
It is not typical for government-initiated public art projects to involve a creative team. In Jing’an, however, the District Government is seeking out and investing in the curatorial expertise of gallery professionals. With a keen eye on public art and sculpture, Shanghai Purple Roof Art Gallery has successfully organised the Jing’an International Sculpture Project since 2010.
In keeping with its fundamental characteristic as public art, the latest edition of the project, themed “Reshaping Space”, aims to boost public participation and interaction. The exhibition space extends from Wujiang Road Pedestrian Street Plaza, to Henglong Plaza, Fengshengli and other lively commercial areas. An exhibition area has also been set up at SISU Jing’an Foreign Language Primary School in order to inspire the creative minds of the future.
One of the indoor exhibitions, the “Floral·Art Space”, is being held in the Sculpture Park Art Center, and integrates floriculture and sculpture into a rich and colourful visual experience.
Twenty nine artists from 10 countries – China, Cameroon, German, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom – were invited to exhibit, bringing with them 56 sculptures, which were divided into 33 groups.
“Amelia 1, Julian, Yasmin” by Julian Opie
Born in London, Julian Opie graduated from Goldsmiths College of Art, University of London in 1983. His work is exhibited in many major museum collections including the Tate Modern, UK, The British Museum in London and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His exhibit is the representative work of the artist, which takes “walking men” as creative objects. Taking portraits as the main creative form, Opie considers those “walking” movements in people’s lives are to be the most natural and common movements, reflecting different moods and colours.
However, Opie does not hold a realistic mentality in creation, but takes the concept first and regards them as a symbol of a hidden environment. “How do people participate in a public environment” is used as the starting point for thinking. Like other representative works, the forms of Opie’s exhibitions are beginning to change, calling this movement as “moving painting”. His creation is not limited to the traditional art of painting and sculpture; he comprehensively uses sound and light and computer animation and other means in his work, combining these new materials with his paintings.
“Four Ways” by Richard Long
Sir Richard Julian Long is one of the best-known British land artists. He is the only artist to have been shortlisted four times for the Turner Prize. “Four Ways” is a self-portrait of his life on earth. It represents his participation in the world through walking, and the result of the interaction between his energy and natural materials and forces.
There is a duality in his works — traveling far away and taking root in his hometown. He was made a CBE in 2013 and knighted in the 2018 Honours List for his contributions to art.
“Unite” by Pedro Reyes
This work is one of Pedro Reyes’ most renowned large scale installations. Reyes’ position, the use of pick-up materials, and the negation of the corporate mentality led him to support the art of poverty and gained unprecedented international attention through his unique views on society.
As the director and curator of the art organisation Torre de Vientos (windmills), Reye held exhibition tours in Harvard University, Cambridge University, Monte Carlo, Milan, Mexico City and Shangri-La in Puerto Rico. Reyes constantly explores how individuals can be liberated in a space, or how to inspire a group of people to coordinate their work.
“Arbre à palabres” by Pascale Marthine Tayou
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Pascale Marthine Tayou’s participation in Documenta 11 (2002) in Kassel and at the Venice Biennale (2005 and 2009) has introduced him to a broad international public. In some African traditions, “Arbre à Palabres” (a talking tree) is often a metaphor for everyday popular mass gatherings in which everyone can speak about the social, economic or political life of his or her community. Such a place is a city that matures based on the needs and experience of its residents.
“Moon Bay” by Liang Shaoji
For nearly 30 years, Liang Shaoji has worked in domains spanning art and biology, installation and sculpture, new media and critical points of behaviours. “Moon Bay” is forged in stainless steel, crimping and destructing the oil fume pipe into the shape of a conch. Bathing under the gentle moonlight, surfing in the breeze, the sculpture sings lightly and plays a poetic imagination of environmental protection.
“Ever Time Gate” by Juan Garaizabal
The work reproduces many of the lines with Chinese architectural elements that Juan Garaizabal has studied. Each element has its own greatness until now, not only in its own time.
Purple Roof Art Gallery
After successfully hosting the Jing’an International Sculpture Project on four previous occasions, Julia Mao and Peter Zhao, founder of Purple Roof Public Art, believe the sustainability of the Project is a result of the close collaboration of professionals from multiple sectors, the benefits reaped by the local community and role the Project plays in boosting Shanghai’s reputation as a center for cultural exchange.
Founded in 2006, the Purple Roof Art Gallery is a fascinating public art space, as well as a multi-functional institute which features expressions of creativity through productions and exhibitions. Passionate about artistic creation and practice, the Gallery advocates the concept of “art is life” and provides strategic planning and innovative execution for public art events.