arts

'Dream-like and full of passion': Yang Fudong's ode to Shanghai

Updated 13th September 2018
'Dream-like and full of passion': Yang Fudong's ode to Shanghai
Written by CNN StaffShanghai, China
Contributors Stephy Chung, Momo Moussa, Marc Ressang, Serenitie Wang, CNN
Yang Fudong is one of Shanghai's most famous residents. The acclaimed visual artist has spent the last two decades in the "Pearl of the Orient," building an illustrious career around poetic films and images that have been collected and exhibited at major institutions worldwide.
His slow-moving, meditative films are, perhaps, inspired by quieter moments found in the frenetic Asian metropolis.
"Sometimes, I get this sudden urge to take the ferry," he tells CNN, explaining how he enjoys riding across the Huangpu River, which divides Shanghai's east and west banks -- Pudong and Puxi. "I try to recall the feeling of the past."
A man flies his kite in front of the financial district of Lujiazui in Shanghai.
A man flies his kite in front of the financial district of Lujiazui in Shanghai. Credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
Yang has been witness to sweeping changes in the city. Pudong (or "East Bank") was, in the not so distant past, a marshland opposite a glamorous stretch of Art Deco buildings. Today, it's the city's financial hub, and home to the city's tallest skyscrapers.
"During my 20 years here, not only have there been economic changes, but significant cultural ones," Yang says during an interview at ShanghART Gallery, describing Shanghai's new and refitted exhibition spaces and growing art industry.
An oil painting by Yang Fudong depicting a Shanghai ferry pier in 1992.
An oil painting by Yang Fudong depicting a Shanghai ferry pier in 1992. Credit: Yang Fudong
The area around Jing'an Temple, for example, is an especially interesting part of the city where "everything blends together," he says.
"It's like a landmark. Not only is there the temple with worshipers, but (there's) some old architecture, like the Paramount hall for dancing. There are emerging businesses ... restaurants, shops."
Across the street from the temple lies Jing'an Park. "The network of our daily lives have become so connected," Yang explains. "But at the same time, there are places like this park -- a spot of peace carved out in a bustling city."
Watch the video above to find out more about Yang's love for Shanghai.