Chinese sculptor Hu Shaoming has constructed a model of an upside-down metropolis simply known as Umbrellafor hisCityseries. The sculpture reflects a booming urban landscape extending from underneath the cool shade of an umbrella. The cold steel parts of the piece are derived from several elements of daily life. They are components and accessories like buttons, metal collars, handles, utensils, and other random bits of metal used to reflect the urbanization of China.
I have really enjoyed seeing the growth of Asian contemporary artists and was very inspired by a recent trip to Art Taipei. This work is fresh and culturally relevant, clearly playing on local themes like the balance between tradition and modernity, economic growth and environmental well-being, with a unique aesthetic that comes from the Chinese perspective. To my eyes the work feels fresh, a kind of Mad Max apocalypse meets the exquisite detail of traditional Chinese craftsmanship. I am interested in seeing how Asian brands can be inspired by these Asian contemporary artists to create stronger and more relevant global brands with a strong point-of-view.
According to the artist, there are approximately 2,000 separate buildings represented in the piece. Each structure is intricately detailed, boasting its own sense of architecture. Altogether they represent one entity, though Shaoming reflects on the loss of traditional Chinese culture as a whole. The parasol being a symbol of the past, the buildings grow further from it with time.
In his piece known as City of Dreams, the artist also reflects on our ties to nature. In this sculpture, another city is growing, this time upwards, from the top of a giant, submerged seahorse. Wrapped in a fairy tale perspective and just as eye-catching as Umbrella, this piece has a greater message that criticizes present societies. With this work, Shaoming seeks to “evoke a sense of crisis that we protect nature.”