Last day of my China trip travelogue. There are some issues that I plan to cover in the future, but they will be more focused on policy than showing off pictures. Lord knows, I have tons more pictures of temples and other sights I could feature.
One of my trips was to the National Art Museum of China which offers free admission if you show your passport and limit attendance to around 6000 tickets a day (4000 at the door and 2000 online from what I can understand.) That attendance limit may seem a little strange until you see pictures of various sites around the country during holidays. (Believe me the crowds can be pretty oppressive on normal weekends as well.)
I felt lucky in that a number of new gallery shows opened two days before I attended. I have subsequently learned that they post virtual tours of closed exhibits online so if you see something interesting in my photos below, wait a couple months and visit the website for a better look. The virtual tours are more than just a walk through the galleries, they take pains to provide detail views of each piece. I have already done some exploring of the puppet carving exhibit they hosted last January.
I admit I was initially jarred by the amount of ideology expressed in the self-introduction written by artist Wen Lipeng who spoke of his father being assassinated for the democratic cause; how in 1947 he and his friends “passionately went to the heaven of democracy and freedom, the [Communist held] liberated areas;” and how after the great leaders died in 1976, “the liberation of thoughts opened up my conservative thinking patterns.”
Upon a little reflection, I quickly recognized that in the US we have our own conspicuous expressions of orthodoxy centered on patriotism, national imagery, the military and religion that appear in artistic expression and seem just as discordant to foreign visitors.
None of what Wen Lipeng wrote kept me from enjoying and admiring a lot of his work.
In the gallery below, I apologize for lack of crediting on many of the images. I took pictures of the name plates associated with each piece but most came out illegible.