Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Compliments to Vermeer" - Controversial Solo Exhibition of the Renowned Chinese Painter JIN Shangyi

Recently, a renown Chinese painter, 靳尚谊, JIN Shangyi, honorary chairman of Chinese Artists Association, former president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, held a solo exhibition, titled 《向维米尔致意》 "Compliments to Vermeer" (official translation used in the exhibition, I'd call it "A Tribute to Vermeer"), which caused an energetic debate amongst Chinese art critics.

Jin is a classicist and has been very influential in the art scene in China.  His most famous paintings include a 1983 portrait of a Tajik Bride, whose serene grace was a fresh breath in then China, who was still largely under the influence of socialist realism, such as his own 1966 portrait of Mao:

《塔吉克新娘》, "Tajik Bride", 1983, 60×50cm

《毛主席全身像》, "Full Length Portrait of Chairman Mao", 1966, 262×137cm

After having done many portraits like his "Tajik Bride", and many nudes, he apparently has been searching for new directions again and this new solo exhibit was to showcase his new insight.  The focal points and the eye of the storm of this exhibition were three pieces of his copies/updates of realistic paintings by the 17th-century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer - "View of Delft", "The Girl with a Turban", aka "The Girl with a Pearl Earring", and "The Little Street".  Based on these three well-known and beloved paintings, Jin made fairly faithful copies, then added some of his own twists.  Based on "View of Delft", his "New View of Delft" actually depicted what he sees in Delft today, however, he kept some figures in the original setting and costume - this is an interesting experiment and a deft way to make social study and commentary, but his paining was nowhere near the accomplishment of the Dutch master's.

《新戴尔夫特风景》, "New View of Delft", Jin Shangyi

View of Delft, Johannes Vermeer
United States public domain tag

His updates of the "Girl with a Turban", or "Girl with a Pearl Earring", named "Frightened Girl with a Pearl Earring", was not a successful attempt.  The girl looked the same albeit with far less vitality.  The lively surfaces of the original became deaden plastic ones.  Most damaging was a delicate right hand Jin added to the sitter, which looked utterly out of place.  This copy is a pure academic exercise and to exhibit it as some great progress is rather egomaniac.

《惊恐的戴珍珠耳环的少女》 "Frightened Girl with a Pearl Earring", Jin Shangyi

Girl with a Turban (Girl with a Pearl Earring), Johannes Vermeer

The last of this trio, his update of Vermeer's "The Little Street", a serene genre painting, was remade by Jin into "Old Street of Delft", with the similar composition, but with additions of a modern poster on the wall, and a motorcyclist and his bike.  This update was much more intrusive and nonsensical.  This is a re-run of 1970s pop art movement and the idea was quite stale.  The meaning of this work is rather hard to find.  A private joke imposed on the broad audience.

《戴尔夫特老街》, "Old Street of Delft", Jin Shangyi

The Little Street, Johannes Vermeer

The praise he garnered were mostly from establishments.  潘公凯, PAN Gongkai, president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts claimed that these three pieces "让我们看到了这种对古典精神的深刻领会,看到了高难度的技巧,看到了拼贴之后仍然浑然一体的自身圆满性。 作为以古典写实技巧与拼贴组合为特征的新的油画风格取向——'后古典'——将日益显现出它的潜在生命力。"  ("let us see the deep understanding of the spirit of classic, see most accomplished skills, even see a seamless whole with these collages.  As a combination of classical realist techniques and a new style of approach based on collage - 'post-classicism' - it will increasingly reveals its potential vitality.")

However, some critics were not persuaded by this "new" approach. 孔祥祥, KONG Xiangxiang, editor of "China Collect" said that
如果靳尚谊先生是一个普通的画家,他这么做是他自己的事。但作为中国美术界的领军人物,其艺术观念和实践令人失望。我们多么希望他引领中国美术登上另一 座高峰,但他却自得其乐地秀着本该是美院学生做的功课。与原作比较,临仿作品显得矫揉而浮华。单从这次展览的三幅画而言,这位一生忠实于写实主义的老先 生,正离古典写实的真谛渐行渐远,而在当代艺术的道路上,他还迷失在岔路口。

If Mr. Jin Shangyi were an ordinary painter, what he does is his own business.  But as the leader of China's arts community, his artistic concept and practices disappoint.  We expect him to lead Chinese art onto another plateau, yet he is content to show off pieces should be the homework of Art Academy students.  Compared to the originals, his copies were mannered and flamboyant.  Based on these three paintings included in this exhibition, this old gentleman, life-long adherent to realism, is drifting farther away from classical realism, yet, in the contemporary art field, he has lost in the fork in the path.
aming, Internet art critic is even more critical:
靳尚谊说 观念不重要,技法才重要?应该引起警惕,不能被误导入歧途。没有观念的画是没有灵魂的画,从美术史的角度来看,美术的发展史同样也是美术观念的发展史。这 在中国画中也不例外。只有观念变化才能带来艺术的创新变化,靳尚谊这样对待观念是把油画带进死胡同,丧失了创造力,就脱离了艺术的本质,油画也就死了! (乐梦融)

Jin Shangyi said the concept is not important, only technique is important? This should arouse alarm, so people won't be misled into the wrong road.  There is no soul without concept.  From the perspective of art history, art history is also the history of art concept development.  Chinese painting is no exception.  Only change of concept can bring innovation in the arts creation.  Jin Shangyi's view on concept is to lead the oil painting into a dead end, to the loss of creativity, to the drifting away from the nature of art, and oil painting will die! (LE Mengrong)

Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst:
- Last Call - "The Girl With A Pearl Earring" in De Young Museum, San Francisco
- My Favorite Paintings in Mauritshuis, Den Haag, Netherlands
- Paintings As Pivotal Elements
- Last Chance to See Terracotta Warriors in San Francisco Asian Art Museum
- Birth of Impressionism at De Young Museum, San Francisco
- Venetian Masterpieces from Vienna at De Young Museum
- My Favorite Works at De Young Museum, San Francisco
- My Favorite De Young Museum Collections

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Frog King

Image source: Wikipedia
Reading Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II, I was struck by a line in Act 1, "Past and to come seems best, things present worst."  Since I read multiple books simultaneously, just as I work on multiple canvases, I just read the reference to the Frog King story in Goethe's Reineke Fuchs (Reynard the Fox).  Goethe's version of the Frog King was a truncated reference only.  For the full version, I employed my memory of childhood fables my father used to read me, such as Aesop and Krylov, both wrote "The Frogs who Begged for a Tsar or a King".

Image source: Wikipedia
It was said that in the peaceful realm of frogs, the inhabitants became bored and concerned that they ought to have a ruler.  They prayed to the god for such a ruler.  God couldn't endure their croaking therefore consented.  God sent them a piece of log and the frogs became ecstatic and started to worship the log as their ruler.  However, it didn't last long.  Soon, they became emboldened in front of the immobile king/tsar and ever so obliging ruler.  They even climbed atop of their king/tsar.  They were dissatisfied again with this do-nothing ruler.  Once again, they appealed to God.  God agreed again; but this time, he sent them a stork as their king/tsar, who hated and ate the frogs at will.  The frogs had to live in constant fear ever since.

Quite uncannily, these two references closely mirror today's reality.  For quite a while, we craved for a ruler who would give us some directions and a purpose of life.  As if our prayers had been answered, out of nowhere, came Barak Obama, striking right poses, as if ready to lead us out of wildness.  However, almost three later, we discovered, that he is but a piece of useless log.

Therefore, we croak aloud again; this time, seeking someone who would act.  Just be aware what we are wishing for.  If we had a Republican president, I guarantee, that he or she would become the merciless stork to us helpless frogs.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Foggy Summer

In my blog post on the late arrival of a true summer to San Francisco Bay Area, I showed a few sparklingly lovely summer pictures. However, if people ever wondered what a foggy Bay Area summer looks like, I have below photos to demonstrate:

Morning Fog 4729 _ Mod _ 500

Morning Fog 4730 HDR _ 500

Morning Fog 4731 _ 500

Morning Fog 4732 HDR _ 500

Morning Fog 4734 _ 500

Morning Fog 4733 500

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finally Summer Arrived in San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area is a cool oasis in summer, even too cold.  A famous statement attributed to the wit Mark Twain was that the coldest winter he ever had was the summer in San Francisco.

Well, it is rather cold in summer, because human beings condition ourselves for the hot weather in months of July and August but we had was foggy days after foggy days.

In late September, suddenly, it warmed up and finally summer arrived, sparklingly:

Summer Festival _ 4470

Summer Festival _ 4474

Summer Festival _ 4513

Summer Festival _ 4497

Summer Festival _ 4460

Summer Festival _ 4462

PS: a confession: These pictures were taken in mid-August. We did have beautiful summer days in real summer time, but truly, they were rare.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Schematic Painting Completed

Recently, while working on two large figure paintings, I have been painting quite a few smaller ones, either purely abstract or semi-abstract, schematic paintings, which I don't have true affinity but the challenge to beat was enough incentive to entice me to keep trying.

The one I completed today, was a vision came to me mind when I was about to fell into sleep one night.  I didn't need the quick sketch I jolted down that night as a guide, rather it was a reminder for me to work on the project.  The vision was a bit enigmatic and I choose not to offer my interpretation here, other than saying that it shows the contrast of two different elements - controlled and unconstrained:

Pink and Gray Landscape

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spider Webs

People have fears for many things, for many reasons.  Many people dislike spiders, and even have great fear for them.  Luckily, we don't have Tanrantula here, therefore, my attitude towards spiders is rather a kind of fascination.  They are amazing creatures and their webs are just beautiful.  Incidentally, I'm reading a book by Joseph Roth - The Spider's Web (1923), however, that is a totally different story about the ascendency of Nazism in Berlin, which had a definitely a negative attitude towards the webs.

On a foggy day, I shot several pictures of spider webs.  Aren't they lovely?

Spider Web _ 4725

Spider Web _ 4723

Spider Web _ 4720

Spider Web _ 4719

Spider Web _ 4717

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Figure and Self-Portrait Galleries on 3D Virtual Art Space (3Dvas)

Recently, I added Figure and Self-Portrait Painting Galleries on 3D Virtual Art Space (3Dvas) (

Below are a few screen shots and the embedded galleries - unfortunately only half of the galleries will show on this blogger site.  Please visit my galleries on 3Dvas for full view - you do need to download the free and SAFE dynamic gallery software to view my galleries:


3Dvas Figure Paintings Gallery 1

3Dvas Figure Paintings Gallery 2

3D VAS - Figure Paintings Gallery (Please use arrow keys to navigate)


3Dvas Self-Portrait Paintings Gallery 1

3Dvas Self-Portrait Paintings Gallery 2

3D VAS - Self-Portrait Paintings Gallery (Please use arrow keys to navigate)

Label: 3D Virtual Art Space

Monday, September 12, 2011

Great Leap Forward to Make Oil Paintings in China

In Craftsmanship versus Inspiration, I discussed the art guild and apprentice system, and quoted from the book "The Renaissance Artist at Work" by Bruce Cole:
From the very first, Renaissance apprentices were introduced to the materials at the art store; in the Renaissance, most of the things used in the shop were made by the artist and his helpers.  This early -- and lasting -- knowledge of the material, physical aspect of his craft endowed the artist with an almost instinctive feeling for the most basic properties of a picture, a sculpture, or an illustrated book.  His understanding of materials and his skill in using them were extraordinary.

Any careful, first-hand examination of Renaissance art reveals that craft is of remarkable importance: paintings and sculpture from the period are among the most beautifully made objects in the entire history of Western art.

It appears that it was indeed possible to train boys, who may or may not have had much talent, to a remarkable proficiency. Of course, the question remains: Could the Renaissance system of artistic education not only train most artists to be highly competent but also teach some of them to be great? Our immediate answer is no.

We must remember that though the author argued that many people can be trained to be a decent artist without reaching greatness, he also emphasized the rigor of the apprenticeship.  In order to finished the training and become a guild member, the boys had to prove their competency according to really high standards.

The author discussed this workshop and apprenticeship in the past tense, because he believed that art making had transformed into artists' individual expressions.

However, it is interesting and disheartening to learn that this kind of training, without its vigor, is multiplying in China, in its Great Leaping Forward to make a few bucks in international art market.

People Daily reported in July that the Township of Tunchang, Hainan Province planned in next three years to invest 15 million Yuan (US$2.3 million) to "support oil painting industry, provide employment opportunities for the young people, build a platform for increasing farmers' income and establish Tunchang the hometown of oil painting".  Yes, oil painting is treated as an industry.

Tunchang is a small town and more than 70% of its population are farmers.  It has an art school, established in 1984 by a self-taught painter.  Within 27 years, it has trained more than 5,000 painting technicians.  The school has six teachers and more than 100 students at the reporting time.

The master plan also including building an "oil painting" walking street and promoting it as a tourist destination.  Though there were very few visitors, a gallery manager told the reporter that she made transactions online and they had sold more than 6,000 "commercial paintings".   The reporter also saw more than 40 women technicians copying "commercial painting" in a classroom, including a 28 years old woman painting with one hand, while holding her one and half years old son with another.

Women Painting Technicians of Tunchang Township Making Copies of "Commercial Painting"

It was reported that in 2010, Tunchang has sold more than 30,000 such locally made "oil paintings" to markets in Beijing, Shanghai, etc., including  many to Europe and Americas.  The average monthly income for an "oil technician" is about 3,500-5,000 Yuan (USD548-783).  In 2011, the total "oil painting" output has reached the value of 3 million Yuan (US$470,000).

I was intrigued by the concept of "Commercial Painting" and did some search on Chinese website and found some information on website promoting such activities: 
“商业油画” 以商品的性质来定位,画出来的目的就是投放到市场用来卖钱的。 这种画是按市场 的变化来变化其价格的,这种画是有价的,就跟一般的服装鞋子一样的属性。 虽然也是画,但不是画家本人精神思想 的表现,完全是投其市场的流行信息来生产的。


从当前来说,商业油画市场需求很大。欧美文化消费占人均消费比例较大,家中的油画作品装饰几乎属于生活的必须品,而且每年不断更换,所以属于重复消费品。 根本不需担心没有订单。而画画的收入也是各行业相比较高的,一般画师一个月能有两三千元的月收入。而高级画师一个月都有七八千元的收入,有的达到一万多 元。只要你掌握几种绘画风格,完全可以在欧美画画,并拥有更高的收入和更广的见识。

Commercial oil painting" is commodity by definition and the purpose of such painting is to sell and make profit. The values of such painting is based on market demands, just like shoes and clothing. Although it is painted, it does not exhibit the spirit of an artist.  It is produced entirely based on market demand.

Commercial painting has hundreds of years history in Europe.  Many world-class artists began with copying masterpieces.  In 1960s to 1980s, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea were major commercial painting producing countries and regions.  This industry has nearly two decades history in China and is relatively new.  Such painting workshops of varying scales emerged first in coastal cities in Fujian and Guangdong Provinces, then gradually spread to all over the country.

Currently, commercial painting is in high demand. European and American consumers spend large proportion of incomes on culture consumptions, and home decorative oil paintings are almost mandatory.  These paintings got changed every year, so there is no need to worry about demands.  Income from painting is high comparing to other industries -- in general, a technician can make two to three thousand Yuan (US$313 to $939) a month . Senior technicians can have seven or eight thousand Yuan (US$2192-2505) monthly income, and even 10,000 Yuan (US$3131). Once you master several painting styles, you absolutely can paint in Europe and America, and have even higher incomes and gain broader knowledge.
I have no idea that Europeans and Americans consider oil painting decoration a must for their homes and these "commercial paintings" should be changed every year.  True or not, however, I shouldn't worry because I won't be able to make a penny from that type of painting.

And I'd better stop writing, since I am about to puke.

Related articles:
--> Craftsmanship versus Inspiration
--> More on Craftsmanship and Inspiration

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Paintings In My Office Building

Last weekend, I replaced my works on display in the lunch lounge of my office building. The four works I put on last weekend are mostly abstract and monochromatic. Not my usual style but somehow they worked:

Office Building, University of California, Berkeley _ 4929

Details of the four paintings are can be examined more closed with the close-ups:

Homeland Impression, III
Homeland Impression, III

Tree Trunks in Gray Landscape / 灰色風景裡的樹幹 / Baumstämme in Grau Landschaft
Tree Trunks in Gray Landscape

Urban Forest / 城市森林 / Städtischer Wald
Urban Forest

Dark Trees, II / 黑暗樹木之二 / Dunkle Bäume, II
Dark Trees, II

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More on Craftsmanship and Inspiration

A day after I posted Craftsmanship versus Inspiration, on the merit of craftsmanship versus pure inspiration or a good idea, I saw this very intriguing image on San Francisco Chronicle:

It is an installation by Michele Pred, "Red, White and Black" (2011), made of razor blades confiscated by airport security in the wake of 9/11.

This image is very strong and have enormous story behind it.  However, it is obvious that craftsmanship was not a concern.  This very interesting installation can be viewed at the Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco.

However, yesterday, Bay Area writer Steve Masover commented on my post as following:

Betsy Lerner is an agent and former editor whose acerbic and incisive and often hilarious blog I follow pretty closely. Next up in my Google Reader after your post was one she wrote called Things are Happening Every Day.

In this post, Lerner is responding to a frequent question, along the lines of 'I have an interesting story to tell, what should I do?' She writes: This is probably the most frequently asked question I get and yet somehow it always makes me apoplectic. Your story is not interesting, or not inherently interesting. Great writing and great storytelling is the only thing that is interesting.

Hmmmm... a strong argument for craft, from an experienced hand.
I'm very confused.

Related articles:
--> Craftsmanship versus Inspiration
--> Great Leap Forward to Make Oil Paintings in China

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Craftsmanship versus Inspiration

I'm reading the introduction chapters of "The Renaissance Artist at Work" by Bruce Cole and was very intrigued by the discussion on the roles and functions of the artist guilds.  I'm going to quote some sentences in the book to demonstrate the argument:
Before an apprentice could even begin to think about style, he had to learn how to make art.  From the very first, Renaissance apprentices were introduced to the materials at the art store; in the Renaissance, most of the things used in the shop were made by the artist and his helpers.  This early -- and lasting -- knowledge of the material, physical aspect of his craft endowed the artist with an almost instinctive feeling for the most basic properties of a picture, a sculpture, or an illustrated book.  His understanding of materials and his skill in using them were extraordinary.

Any careful, first-hand examination of Renaissance art reveals that craft is of remarkable importance: paintings and sculpture from the period are among the most beautifully made objects in the entire history of Western art.
The Assumption of the 
Virgin, 1362, Luca di Tommè _7700
The Assumption of the Virgin, 1362, Luca di Tommè

The Renaissance concept that all works of art were functional and skillfully made objects renders the apprenticeship system more understandable.

Today, art is a manifestation of the artist's creative spirit.  Certainly the sale of art is an important element, but thousands of artists who have little hope of ever selling their work still continue to paint and carve with great energy.  Art is their calling and catharsis; financial rewards, most of them believe, are important but consideration of a lower order.

The apprenticeship system, with its long period of study, early acquaintance with varied materials, copying, and collaborative work, somehow allowed boys who were probably quite ordinary in every respect to be turned into men possessing a high degree of artistic skill.  Art -- so the Renaissance believed -- could be taught by a series of progressive steps from grinding colors, to making copies, to work on the master's design, to inventing one's own paintings or sculptures.
All this may appear incredible to those who feel that the role of the art school is to encourage and train the already gifted.  We do not believe that education alone can create a good artist: some kind of talent, of inspiration (divine or otherwise) marks a person for further artistic study.

Yet the vast majority of drawings, paintings, and sculptures produced in the Renaissance give clear evidence of the acquired skill of their authors.

It appears that it was indeed possible to train boys, who may or may not have had much talent, to a remarkable proficiency.  Of course, the question remains: Could the Renaissance system of artistic education not only train most artists to be highly competent but also teach some of them to be great?  Our immediate answer is no.

In the early sixteenth century, new attitudes began to form in some of the more intellectual artistic circles: Vasari, for example, looking into the history of Florentine art, calls Giotto divinely inspired.  The idea that the artist was a special creator standing apart from society, above the guild-workshop system, was being born.

Nowadays, the value of art seems more to lie in its originality, its ideas rather than its execution.  No doubt, this line of thinking, for better or worse, helped to usher in the mixed genres of art and the most talked about pieces of our time are often installations or works with performance built-in.

Furthermore, this book made me think about current very democratic art scene.  Everyone who can draw a line, piece together a collage, or smear some paints on canvas can style himself or herself as an artist.  Art making is not some lofty ideas one needs a license to practice.  Art schools inspire students more on new ideas than tradition.  This seems to agree with the believe of the Renaissance time, that every boy, and girl, can be trained to competent proficiency.  But that argument is a false one.  During the Renaissance time, as argued in the book, apprentices were trained rigorously and in our time, such discipline has been seriously compromised if not disregarded completely.

Then, we come to a crucial question:  How much further can an artist push, if being new is the supreme goal?  All ideas have been built on the previously exploited.  Trying to cling to the current trend of new fad or technology would only make the values of such art creations temporal rather than timeless.

What a confusing time we live in.

Related articles:
--> More on Craftsmanship and Inspiration
--> Great Leap Forward to Make Oil Paintings in China

Monday, September 5, 2011

Two Abstract Paintings Completed

 Several days ago, I posted the two abstract paintings I'd been working on for a while and was struggling to decide if they were done or not.

They were rather beautiful - in a transparent and shallow way.  I decided to push a bit further and the result was the two paintings are less apparently pleasing and less airy but with added depth.  A reasonable tradeoff, I think:

Untitled Abstract 2010 I

Untitled Abstract 2010 II _ 500

Related article: Two Abstract Paintings In Progress

Sunday, September 4, 2011

China - Five Thousand Years Old? No, One Hundred!

Whiling reading Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II and the historical background essays, I was struck by the tenacity of many usurpers or claimants's efforts in establishing their kinship connections to earlier and legitimate rules, or invented such blood connections.  Without exception, they all styled themselves the Kings of England, and not as a King of York, or King of Lancaster.  Dynasties changed with their family names, but the Kingdom was always England.  England's monarchs can be trace back to 927 A.D.

This is decidedly different from the historical events took place in the land now called China.

People often believe that the history of China is four thousand to five thousand years old.  In a sense, it is correct - the land and people and its continuous, predominant culture can be traced back as far as four to five thousands years ago.  However, during those ancient and imperial times, the concept of China didn't exist.  The land the emperors of various dynasties ruled, gradually grew into the size and shape largely overlapping with current China, was simple called the world (天下).  The succeeding dynasties had no connections to one another except for the land and the people they ruled.  The emperors were the Emperors of Qin, Emperors of Han, Emperors of Tang, Emperors of Ming, and Emperors of Qing, etc., but never Emperor of China.  As a matter of fact, a new dynasty always made great effort to sever any connections, if existed, from the ones they superseded.  The one they replaced was inevitably bad and must be condemned and destroyed and never to be spoken of in any good light.  It was purely incidental that they ruled the same land and people.  Inevitably they claimed their mandates from the Heaven to rule the earth.  The world belonged to their houses.  They didn't need consent to rule from the people lived in that land.  They owned the world and only the by their grace that the people live.

China, (in Chinese 中国), means Middle or Central Country.  This term was used as early as more than two thousand years ago.  However, at that time, it simple meant capital.  Many kingdoms and empires in that land had mentioned themselves as Middle Kingdom, mostly in an egotistic way.

Flag of the Republic of China 1912-1928
China, was really a modern concept came into existence with the overthrown of the last dynasty (Qing) and the birth of the Republic of China in 1911.  When the Republic of China was founded in January 1912, its national flag had five color stripes (red, yellow, blue, white and black), representing the five main ethnic groups - Han, Manchu, Mongol, Muslim Hui and Tibetan.  The land was called China, instead of the World.  The president was the President of China, not the President of the World.  Arguably, the concept of China was a one-hundred-year-old modern concept.

To modern Chinese people, politicians and scholars alike, whoever ruled that land and the people lived on that land, was considered part of the history of China, including the period the land and people was conquered by foreigner invaders and the majority Han was treated slightly better than slaves, such as during the entire Mogol's (Yuan Dynasty) and the early Manchu's (Qing Dynasty) rules.  Chinese generally proudly took pride in their ancient and continuous history and unbroken governance from legendary time through dynasties and republics.  That really bends the truth a bit.  Those conquered periods were really like the conquered Poland during World War II, which at that time, as the political entity, ceased to exist, though the land was still the same land, and the people were still the same Polish people.  Or to imagine that Japan had succeeded in conquering China and called it its province, even if the Japanese capital moved from Tokyo to Beijing or Shanghai.

Of course, in ancient times, the term China had been used in other part of the world to refer to many ancient Chinese dynasties, or the land and the people.  But it was merely a point of reference.  It didn't have the geopolitical meaning in it.  Some people called that land china, other called it silk or tea.

The history in that vast land is long.  But China as a political concept, is still very young.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Photographer Robert Welsh - Black & White Spider Awards Finalist

San Francisco Photographer Robert Welsh had made great stride in recent years, as witnessed by numerous shows and museum collections.

Outside his main theme of culture clash, one of his black and white photograph was nominated for "Black & White Spider Awards".  

Black & White Spider Awards online exhibition represents the world's finest contemporary photographers as nominated by the Jury. Thousands of images are submitted each year with only a few hundred images making it to Nominee status by consensus of the Jury. The Nominee shortlist consists of images that have received the highest percentage of votes overall and is the shortlist from which the winners are decided.

Welsh's photograph was titled "Child on Ferry".  The description goes: This child who seems deep in thought with the Statue of Liberty in the background is from an on-going series of the Staten Island Ferry. I tried to capture the light and the manner in which it reflects the varying moods of its passengers.

The short biography of Robert Welsh states that Robert Welsh (b. 1953) captures the spirit of various communities and settings to convey a sense of universalism. He documents urban neighborhoods as a reminder of his childhood in working class Boston. Robert works in both B&W and color using traditional methods. His work has been described as painterly and layered. Garnering numerous awards and exhibitions, his photographs are in the permanent collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Denver Art Museum, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Hispanic Society of America, Worcester Art Museum, and Griffin Museum of Photography.