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Wuhan Journal: Hubei Art Museum

Today we had one big excursion, and that was to visit the Hubei Art Museum.  We had also considered going to the Hubei Provincial Art Museum, but there was a line the likes we hadn't seen outside of Disney World.  Seriously there were like 200 people in line, it was insane.  I have no idea what was showing in there, but it was drawing an enormous crowd.  So we went with the more sedate Hubei Museum of Art.  

The big exhibit, and it was three entire floors was on traditional Chinese painting.  So all of the works were ink and wash on paper and most all of them were enormously huge.  There were some incredibly wonderful paintings.  There were a few things that particularly caught my eye in the exhibit.  The one that sticks out in my head the most was a piece entitled "Ambiguity" by Liu Chunbing. 

The piece is a multi-panel set of scenes of women, some of them juxtaposed in nude scenes, and some of them in sexually provocative ways with other women.  I really liked this one.  Especially the gender ambiguity of the couple on the far right in the middle of the column.  This was just a fantastic piece. 

Most of the pieces were representational figure drawings, the most striking of them were a set of three enormous pieces of Mongolian or Tibetan people. The piece pictured here "the people we rely on for a living" by Liang Yan was probably 3-4 yards long and 2 yards high.  It was so moving.  In its pathos it reminded me of the scenes from the great depression.  

On the other end of the spectrum were the more abstract pieces that were more akin to traditional ancient Chinese brushwork art.  There were landscapes and flower still lifes and beautiful birds.  It was interesting to me that some of them were framed entirely and some were just mounted on the wall.  There was no real rhyme or reason to it, so it was my assumption that it was mounted however the artist presented the work for exhibition in the museum. 

Along the way as we were traveling through the multiple floors of the traditional painting exhibit we found a hilarious little sculpture zone.  Best piece in there, I have no idea what it was called but I'm calling it China in Space. It's an astronaut holding a rocket with some semi-traditional Chinese garb around it, but it also has this one leg in a high pose like a can-can girl.  The reason I love it is because of the shoe.  All it's missing is the heel.  Tell me I'm wrong about that?

After our time at the museum we all had coffee at the little shop in the museum and headed back to campus.  We've been trying to locate this bookstore, and Jon was able to find it online but we needed to find out where it was in town and how to get there.  So I spent the next 2.5 hours trying to figure out a) where the hell the street was, b) where that street was on the map and c) how to get from somewhere on campus to the place on the map.  The actual flat paper map I have is entirely in Chinese, so it was an uphill battle to begin with.  So I was working with Google Translate and Google maps to try and figure out where the hell any of this was.  I was flipping back and forth between the computer, the lonely planet book, the Chinese map and back and forth and back and forth and then Lydia and I had to bust out her Chinese language book so we could literally see each piece of the name.  It was incredibly difficult to say the least.  But we figured it out.  And then as I turned down to my Chinese flat map I realize much to my chagrin that there is a little symbol for a shopping center there.  DAMN! 

The other thing that I'm learning quickly is that you can't compare Chinese and Japanese to any real degree.  Chinese characters have moved on in many ways, and as I discovered from the girls last night at the bar that a lot of the Kanji that I recognize is actually classic Chinese, and not translatable to modern Chinese.  It's kind of a pain in the ass.  Though there are some things that remained the same like the word for products, 品.  But the words for river and book are totally different.  This makes it a little extra crazy making for me.  Because when I'm looking for books I'm looking for, not, 书.  Bah!  Hopefully my trip to the bookstore tomorrow will yield a phrasebook that's actually useful.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
Love. Those. Boots. :-D

Actually, the artwork is STUNNING. We don't get to see a lot of this kind of work in the west, and I think it's a sad shame.

I think the thing that would throw me most would be the characters in the writing. And I know what you mean about phrasebooks...I was looking things up in my Spanish phrasebook in Barcelona and it was only on my last day there that I realized I was trying to translate Catalan and not Spanish. No wonder certain things made no sense at all. I am not the brightest bulb sometimes. :-/
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Eric Fritter Riley

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