China Journals: Shanghai Art Mueum

4pm – Shanghai Art Museum

I’m incredibly taken by the humor in some of the oversized “traditional style” paintings that are featured in Gallery 1… A traditionally dressed woman carrying a megaphone and flag surrounded by Chinese tourists, all gray. Three fruits in layers of inks, modern apartment complexes drawn in the style for old cityscapes… great humor, great sadness, great drawing upon old inspirations towards modern themes. The traditional mode and subject pieces don’t take me as much, with the exception of a Great Wall piece whose use of perspective leaves me dizzy. Medical Operations as if an old court scene, hard words, dying bodies, drugs and subtle brush strokes. From cities to tigers, fading into the foreground.

In Exhibition Hall 2, a young woman dissolves into the greens and yellows of a weeping willow, hide and seek with a friend or paramour… longing to catch her eye. Longing to be the one seeking her in the spring of yellow blossoms and the hint of a house in the distance. SARS is a theme heavy on the minds of artists, on a country swept by 2 epidemics in 2 years… 2 sets of 4 letter acronyms devastating a nation.

Side Note – I am wearing very squeaky shoes for this high polish floor.

Though technically this room may have had the more skilled artists, the first left me thinking, moved… this just leaves the palate unimpressed.

Exhibition Hall 6 leaves me feeling cheated. After the 1st floor, I expected more innovation in the art displayed here but instead found cookie cutter acceptable watercolors and oils in a western style, with not even the content of the pieces to bring me back into the room. A few humorous moments (the children reading in front of hay stacks for example) instead of tying me into the theme left me feeling Hallmark or whatnot. The exceptions are a few excellent portraits, especially of the elderly… but again, technically excellent, but seemingly uninspired.

Hooray, something different! The artists of this series of oversized, predominantly landscapes seem to be combining new inks, brushes and pens with the traditional formats to create some excellent detail work, textures, and expression of intent in their new work. Nearest the end of the hall is a piece featuring 4 people in a series together (similar format to 4 seasons in Chinese art) that though whimsical with the girl with glasses and “go” game, still leaves the viewer wanting to understand each character and create their back story, understand their lives.

Another medical piece = this specific artist is excellent.

Exhibition Hall #5 leaves me seated in front of a man who seems important. Yet to me, leaves me lost. Lost in Translation, perhaps? Strangely enough other oversized face-only portraits that I’ve appreciated live don’t quite leave me this… drained…? His eyes carry too much guilt, or is it sadness from a great loss, his cheeks sunken from years of burden. I wonder what his story is – and yet, perhaps then the artist’s job is complete, as drained as it has left me.

This room is again the same style of framing and display as #6, and again, a bit lacking. Permanent Collection vs. rotating?

Mongolian Warrior in furs clutching baby.
Terra Cotta Warriors and Bulldozers
Sunset and bridge construction
Cold stare from the security guard

The open gallery space on the 2nd floor simply … was. No good, no bad, just neutral… the type of stuff for office walls or conservative art collectors.

3rd Floor: Post Modernism, Baby!

The show upstairs is apparently called: Hauderschild: Zooming into Focus

As I walk up the stairs I meet Shanghai, turn a corner and am confronted with 10 (+2 blue screens) screens of scratching.

Hall #11 -> The Panda Series. Modern moments. Panda: Pain doesn’t scare me, AIDS does! Doctor: Don’t worry, the syringe is single use.

For those who don’t know, thousands+ people in China were infected with AIDS because when giving blood, the needles and other equipment was reused over and over again. Meet AIDS, the gout created epidemic.

Cityscapes on paper in front of cityscapes -> insert China into the world.

Crawling state: “There are some things we can’t control, still they are controlled by others”, 1,002+ crawling ceramics in installation.

Art in installation on floor.

Girls on walls.

Men in games = fantasy becomes reality and we dream our lives away.

Don’t worry, it will be better?


Lights out, run out of the museum, run out on a rail, lights out as I go. I just bought 1 magazine and two books, had to. Wow. I’m impressed. The Shanghai Art Museum is a definite thumbs up. Wow. Okay, I and my heavy books must somehow acquire a bag to carry them in.


Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and in 6 countries, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. An award-winning author and editor on gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys,” and "Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond," among many other titles. He has been blogging online since 1998, and been teaching worldwide since 2001. Welcome to his world, and your chance to expand your mind and heart alike.

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