An advertising company for the Qingdao Municipal Tourism board asked to take me around on a little tour so I can promote the great city of Qingdao on my blog for China expats and English speaking tourists traveling to Shandong Province. Heck, someone wants to send a driver, usher me around the city, buy me lunch, translate and interpret my inquiries while dodging language barrier issues – COUNT ME IN! So we set off to the Old Town, Daxue Lu.
Daxue Lu (University Road) is a tree lined street filled with cafes and historical buildings. I have been wanting to check out this area, so their first suggestion was the art museum. Hmmmm…. An art museum in Qingdao? How’s that gonna turn out (cue roll of eyes). As usual, I stand corrected because it was pretty fantastic.
The architecture of the Qingdao Art Museum alone is worth the visit. The Museum façade maintains the traditional Chinese architecture, ceremonious and ornate.
Inside however, it immediately takes on a modern minimalist tone, reserved with reticent lighting to not distract from the artwork.
We just so happened to walk in during the opening ceremony of local Qingdao artist Jiang Shiyu.
The 77 year old artist is, in my opinion, the Qingdao Claude Monet. His watercolor paintings depict all that defines Qingdao and what makes Qingdao like no other city in China. Jiang Shiyu’s illustrations capture a passage of time, marks shifts in seasons, and frames the stillness of specific scenic moments in its pure and natural setting.
Meeting this renowned artist was quite an honor. Despite all the media and loyal fans, he took the time to talk and present us with an autographed compilation of his artwork. What an unbelievable privilege.
We left feeling like we just spent the day at Disney! We held hands, skipped across the courtyard and walked into another exhibition.
We walked in all happy face and doe eyed when our buzz was bitten off, chewed up and spit out by a post-apocalyptic deformed humanoid tree. As much as I can appreciate it, this is not really my cup of tea.
Li Shixian is a local Qingdao avant-garde artist and appears to be one troubled guy. His work is ominous, chaotic and lonely, rebelling against modern industrialization. He interprets on how modern society tragically kills nature by painting vegetation with human body parts. Fun stuff.
By the time I have the time to write this post, both these exhibitions will gone. It will be replaced by another artist’s work, so it really doesn’t matter when you go. The Qingdao Art museum is really a must see. Try to go before it gets too cold so you can see the leaves fall and hang out at one of the many cafes down Daxue Lu.
Stay tuned for more on Daxue Lu!