Global artists invited to stay, create in Silk Road hub city
Dunhuang, an old city on the historic Silk Road, will invite global artists to stay and create art inspired by the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO world heritage.
The Dunhuang International Artists in Residence program was released in Shanghai over the weekend. Artists, curators, scholars, designers and other creative professionals will be recruited to live in Dunhuang in northwest China's Gansu Province.
During the stay, a series of activities will be launched, such as workshops, lectures, forums and tours to help the artists learn the culture and history of Dunhuang, once a key spot for cultural exchanges between the East and West, according to the Dunhuang Center for Contemporary Art, the organizer of the program.
"Local artists are encouraged to help promote the glorious Dunhuang cultures across the globe by artistic creations inspired by the cultural heritage," said Sun Xiaoqiang, chairman of the Dunhuang Culture and Tourism Group.
"The program also aims to showcase the confidence of Chinese civilization to global artists amid the COVID-19 pandemic," said Sun. He said different nationalities, countries, religions and politics are expected to live harmoniously in front of the Dunhuang cultures.
The Mogao Caves, also known as Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, contain the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years. The first caves were dug in 366AD as places of Buddhist meditation and worship. It is one of the three famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China.
The Gravity Art Space, a Shanghai base of the Dunhuang Art Center, was launched at the Changyang Campus in Yangpu District over the weekend.
It held an inaugural exhibition about the Mogao Caves to attract candidates to the program.
The local art space will interact with the art center in Nancang of Dunhuang, an art hub renovated from a governmental granary dating back to the Emperor Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
A dozen local artists, including abstract painter Ding Yi and contemporary artist Liu Jianhua, displayed the first group of art creations inspired by the Mogao frescoes titled "Heading to Dunhuang."
Xue Song, a local pop artist, displayed his latest artwork "A salute to Dunhuang." He combined the images of the Mogao frescos created during the Jin Dynasty (265-420) with common colors used for the murals such as green, cyan, red and yellow into his new painting.
"Dunhuang was the starting point of the Silk Road to the west and was also called the 'Road of Horses' because of the horses imported to China," said Xue. The abstract painting aims to review the history of the Silk Road with an image of a horseman, he said.
Wang Shaoqiang created "Red Hills and Lofty Mountains" based on his geological research of the Dunhuang area. He combined the various geological levels on paper with ink painting skills.
The art installation "Aura" installed a fast moving LED monitor on a track to create a circular aura. It represents the understanding of the Light of Buddha by the artist Wang Yuyang after his visit to the Mogao Grottos.
"The exhibition marks an invitation to global artists to the Dunhuang International Artists in Residence program," said Du Yan, art director of the local art space. The artworks created by participants will be exhibited in the space in future.
Jin Jiangbo, deputy dean of Shanghai University's Academy of Fine Arts, said the academy will help train the heritage skills masters of Dunhuang to combine traditional skills with modern designs and innovations.
The young entrepreneurs and employees at the Changyang Campus, a national entrepreneurship hub, are also expected to be inspired by the artworks displayed at the newly launched art space, said Xi Rongqing, general manager of the campus.
There are more than 300 startup companies based at the campus, including five unicorns: privately held startups valued at over US$1 billion each, Xi said. They are encouraged to view the art exhibitions.
New technologies such as artificial intelligence and metaverse from the tech companies of the campus might be blended with the heritage cultures of Dunhuang and help the global promotion campaign, said Sun.
Additional Dunhuang art spaces will be launched in the world's key art cities, he added.