This is a city with a thousand faces. What will you draw if you are asked to put down your impression of Shanghai and its people on an A4 size page?
Inspired by “The Tokyoiter” and “The Parisianer” projects in salute to the time-honored magazine “The New Yorker,” the first magazine to receive a Pulitzer Prize in 2016, French artist Benoit Petrus came up with an idea to make a collection of illustrations based on Shanghai.
The outcome is a month-long exhibition named “The Shanghairen,” which is under way on the second floor of the Mix Place. It features 70 Chinese illustration works as well as contributions from foreigner illustrators, who are either based in Shanghai or visited the city for a short stay in years gone by.
“After living in Shanghai for nearly six years, my impression of the city is best expressed through the image of Shanghai’s lane house,” said Yulong Lli, a Shanghai-based freelance illustrator.
Hu Zhongwen, a Shanghai-raised illustrator, who drew an elephant slide in Yangpu Park, said, “As a child, I always went to ride on the elephant slide over and over again. Now the park has been removed, but people living in the community still come to dance and play cards as if nothing has changed.”
Clementine Rochechon is a French illustrator. She drew a bird singing in the cage hanging on the tree.
“I chose to illustrate this aspect of Shanghai because I believe the only real freedom we have is not from being outside in the nature but through connecting our soul with others through music,” she said.
Ailadi is an Italian designer and artist. She used graphics and generative animations to frame a picture of people dancing in a public space.
“One of the things I love in Shanghai is how people use public space. Street corners and public squares are the perfect place for groups to dance to traditional Chinese music,” she said.
Since the opening, many people have visited the bookstore’s showroom, spent time laughing, liking or disliking the art. Many of the works are generated by the artists’ first impression of the city, be it a street scene, a passing Metro train, a story from Eileen Chang’s book or the halo of a street lamp under which two men play chess in the middle of the night.
“For ‘The Shanghairen,’ we would like to develop the project in various artistic ways rather than growing the number of covers,” said Petrus, who works as an independent creative producer in Shanghai over the past five years.
Though the exhibition officially wraps up tomorrow, some of the prints are still available on the site and can be viewed through Petrus’s WeChat (ID: TheShanghairen). An exhibition catalogue with three different covers can also be purchased.
“The next exhibitions will feature unique and original formats, such as workshops, collaborative drawings, wall paintings and moving images,” said Petrus of his future plan in Shanghai.
Venue: The Mix Place, 10:30am-10pm
Address: 2/F, 880 Hengshan Rd