Shanghai history through the time capsule of comics
An exhibition dedicated to the art of comics in Shanghai runs until March 26. Titled "Drawing Shanghai – Shanghai style in the comics," the exhibit displays around 600 drawings from 12 Chinese and foreign artists as well as four collectors.
"All the selected authors have done both cartoon and illustration, which brings them closer to a more artistic practice and less related to books only. There is always a desire to show characters, changes in society and lifestyles in the city of Shanghai in their works," said French comic scholar Johan Radomski, one of the curators, at the show.
Radomski is passionate about the history of Shanghai comics. Since arriving in the city in 2010, he has visited the surviving families of Shanghai cartoonists Feng Zikai (1898-1975), Zhang Leping (1910-92) and He Youzhi (1922-2016).
"Comics in Shanghai have been around for a century. The art originated in particular with the witty cartoons of Feng Zikai in the Shanghai press in the 1920s, and the publication of graphic adaptations of classic novels, such as 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms' and 'Outlaws of the Marsh,'" he said.
One of the exhibits on site is a 13-meter-long display wall created in collaboration with Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House. It combines covers and a choice of pages from 100 books, reflecting the evolution of word-and-image art over the past century.
Visitors get a glimpse of Zhang's work depicting fashion design in the 1920s and Dai Dunbang's little-known drawings for the television series "Sanmao: an Orphan on the Street" in 1995.
Other highlights include He Youzhi's work recalling his youth in the 1940s and Luo Xixian's work on life in a shikumen (stone-gate) house in the 1960s.
There are also selected works by Léa Murawiec, who translates into her drawings the artistic impression that Shanghai gave her during a 6-month residence in 2017, and the humorous drawings of Lucie Guyard, who has been recording her daily life in Shanghai over the past 10 years.
The oldest works on display are cartoons published in newspapers in 1910-11, which recorded historical events in the crucial period during the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the birth of the Republic of China (1912-1949).
"While preparing for this exhibition, I discovered Ding Song's portraits of young, modern Chinese women around 1915. They were seen carrying out different activities, such as telephoning, driving and styling. The works are full of sensitivity, open-mindedness and truly feminist for that time," said Radomski.
Dates: Through March 26 (closed on March 21 and 22), 10am-6pm (last entrance at 5pm)
Venue: Shanghai Culture Square
Address: 597 Fuxing Rd M.