"Beijing" -- a British artist sketches future of Chinese capital

Source: Xinhua| 2018-04-28 10:07:31|Editor: Chengcheng
Video PlayerClose

BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Some say people see things as they are; others say people see what they want to see. A new art exhibition in Beijing will give people the chance to see the city through the detailed eyes of a British artist.

Gareth Fuller is best known for striking cartographic art, which has been acquired by the British Library and Museum of London. Walking slowly through the world's major, and some less known, cities, Fuller takes a psychogeographer's approach to a city, studying it over a large period of time to take in its romance, tragedy and comedy.

"Beijing," part of a global series, will be on show at Art Beijing 2018 from April 29. Established in 2006, Art Beijing has become one of Asia's most respected art and exhibition brands.

Fuller's obsession with all things in China began when he visited a friend in Beijing in 2014. The results of his four-year love affair with the Chinese capital - a 1.2 x 1.5 m canvas effervescing with minute images of city life - goes on public display for the first time this week.

"Beijing" provides a snapshot of contemporary Chinese culture seen through the artist's eyes, and a representation of his relationship with the city, uncovering its hidden secrets and histories layer by layer.

Fuller began "Beijing" a year ago by circumnavigating the capital on foot, via the 6th Ring Road, and eventually walking every ring road and into the heart of the city.

"London's Palm Tree Gallery and I wanted to be at a busy art fair in the capital. After attending Art Beijing 2017 and seeing the vast number of people here, it seemed like the perfect place to launch the Beijing work," Fuller told Xinhua at his studio in the eastern suburb of Tongzhou.

"Art Beijing has it all: serious collectors, genuine art lovers and those who are just inquisitive. I hope to meet both visitors and exhibitors and learn more about the Chinese art world. It would be great to meet other artists who may like to visit Europe too.

"I've delved into a plethora of topics that shape the present and future Beijing. A great many of them are in the work."

Although geography is key to the process, Fuller says it is the sense of place, the stories and culture that ultimately make up the images.

"My previous pieces contained more personal experiences but Beijing gave me an overwhelming introduction into contemporary Chinese culture. I learned that Beijing is gigantic - its scale, its community and ambitions for the future. Everything here is so big. I underestimated so much," he said. "It was especially important for me to capture Beijing's appetite to become a leading world technology hub and to adopt new technology. The network of canals on the map flow with binary code symbolizing data being shared in a smart city. In the north, I've included a vertical farm producing crops grown in nutrient rich soil. There is even a WeChat-spam sewage works."

The work is filled with people, all busily engaged in their daily lives, the work clearly owing more to people than to the buildings or roads.

"Right back at the start, on my third day walking the 6th ring road, I encountered a parked car with its horn sounding continuously, like a siren. Intrigued to know more, I got close up and peered through the window. To my surprise the driver was sound asleep inside, with his feet resting on the horn! Nothing gets in the way of the afternoon nap."

Having devoted so much time and energy to the project, Fuller is not ready to leave China yet.

"I intend to spend time learning Mandarin and want to do this in another first tier city. Documenting this process - grasping a language through my art and geography - can be rather exciting, but I might have left it a bit late. I certainly see myself staying a while in China if 'Beijing' is a success, but other cities and other projects are calling. I've recently become an Irish citizen so a research trip in Dublin is also on the cards."

Alongside "Beijing," Fuller and the Palm Tree Gallery will exhibit a number of other works at the Art Beijing 2018 at Agricultural Exhibition Center from April 29 to May 2.