Installation makes the cut with inspiration from traditional folk art

Yang Yang
Zhuanqiao Town has unveiled its new landmark art installation, "Tree of Guanghua Road," in its Guanghua Road innovation block.
Yang Yang
Installation makes the cut with inspiration from traditional folk art
Ti Gong

Part of a paper-cutting work created by Yang Zhaoqun which features scenes along the ancient Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

Zhuanqiao Town has unveiled its new landmark art installation "Tree of Guanghua Road" – a metal installation in the form of a tree with a canopy adorned with patterns from paper-cutting – at its Guanghua Road innovation block.

The town in Minhang District also held its third creative paper-cutting festival over two weeks, during which they invited residents to take a closer look at paper-cutting works by renowned Chinese paper-cutting masters and offered a rare glimpse into their artistic journeys.

The "Tree of Guanghua Road" art installation, at 318 Guanghua Road, has six orange metal flaps forming its canopy, each engraved with paper-cutting patterns of icons of the innovation block, expressing ethnic reunion, neighborhood harmony, and a celebration of art.

Installation makes the cut with inspiration from traditional folk art

Art installation "Tree of Guanghua Road"

The tradition of Zhuanqiao paper-cutting dates back to the early 1930s, and in 2009 it was listed as an intangible cultural heritage item of Shanghai.

"The town is celebrated for its folk art of paper-cutting," said Sun Yongkang, curator of the festival and the Meon Art Center. "The township government and the Minhang-based Star River Group Shanghai are showing their support, and we celebrate this annual paper-cutting festival that began in 2018.

"Renowned national paper-cutting masters have been invited to enrich the soil of our local paper-cutting, and we embrace both innovation and tradition."

Ding Liren, a 94-year-old Chinese folk artist, exhibited his paper cuttings featuring diverse shapes of human hands at the Meon Art Center on Guanghua Road in August.

The paper-cutting artist, who is also a painter, was enticed to try the folk art in 2000 when he moved to his new house, where at that time there were few furniture pieces and no painting implements.

He saw a pair of scissors and some papers on a desk and started creation. The first creative idea that occurred to him was of human hands.

"The progress of civilization comes along with the division of labor and we see the hands of a professional pianist, a surgeon, tailor, embroider, boxer and stone carver ... I celebrate the diverse shapes of hands and all of them are lovely," the artist said.

Alongside the exhibition of Ding's work, paper-cutting masters from both north and south China joined the festival.

Li Shoubai, a heavy-color painter and Shanghai-style paper-cutting artist, brought his artworks that portray the Shanghai lifestyle and the city's streets and neighborhoods to the festival.

Installation makes the cut with inspiration from traditional folk art
Ti Gong

Paper-cutting work "Sinan Road" by Li Shoubai

He was joined by Yang Zhaoqun, a paper-cutting master from neighboring Jiangsu Province; Wang Jihong, from Zibo City of east China's Shandong Province, whose works were inspired by folk ghost stories written by ancient Chinese writer Pu Songling (1640-1715); and Zhang Xiaomei, whose hometown of Yulin in Shaanxi Province is a source of constant inspiration thanks to its location as a melting pot of cultures from Shaanxi, Gansu and Shanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

"As college graduates are trying to adapt to society, we may occasionally feel we're just a small part of a gigantic social machine," said Gu Lindan, an art teacher at Zhuanqiao Middle School and a participant in an artists' discussion forum.

"Whereas a full creative experience from intangible culture items like paper-cutting helps us heal and feel a unison of personal identity."

Lu Weiqing, a woman visiting Shanghai to assist in caring for her grandchild, and Cao Yanshou, a paper-cutting enthusiast in his 70s, said they were grateful for the local art that helped enrich their lives.

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