Art at Site	Bob	Qingcheng	mother and child

Yu Qingcheng

mother and child

When a dozen large statues were placed in a park in Beijing's Tiantongyuan residential area five years ago, their naked appearance created a storm among residents. Some sensed a deep affection for life conveyed by these sculptures, while others considered them rather embarrassing and even vulgar.
Yu Qingcheng, a clay sculpture artist, created the works on the order of the compound's developer. He said he gave them exaggerated characteristics to underline the subject of love between parents and children.
Property management staff told reporters that they installed the sculptures upon the developer's request. They didn't ask the residents in advance, because it would be difficult to suit everyone's tastes.
Yin the art professor said that the expenses also come from various sources through government purchases, commercial bidding and funds raised by artists and residents. "In one word, public art will contribute to social equity and harmony, as long as it is based on people-oriented values."
Zhu from the Ministry of Culture said the first national public art exhibition is being planned. It will complement a government-sponsored visual art exhibition system, which now includes a national fine arts exhibition and the China Design Exhibition.
He said the exhibition will not only boost public art creation, but also discuss how to establish a transparent public art management mechanism.
A new term to most of China's urban residents, public art has already created an appealing first impression by way of sculptures in parks and plazas and frescos at airports and libraries. Increasing numbers of Chinese artists are now becoming involved in the creation of public art projects, despite the fact that quite a number of viewers don't enjoy them.
Last spring, the depiction of 20-odd realistic naked and disfigured sculptures by farmer-sculptor Yu Qingcheng in a garden of Beijing's super-large community, Tiantongyuan, triggered disputes over whether it was art or vulgarity. On its heels, a sturdy naked statue staring down at a disfigured and shriveled image of Lao Zi in front of Peking University's Guanghua School of Management has stirred controversy among faculty and students since November 2008, making them wonder about a seemingly ridiculous juxtaposition.
"The works themselves are fine and decent, but they were installed in the wrong places," Qin Pu, a sculptor and Director of the Public Art Studio of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), told Beijing Review.
"Each piece of public art serves a particular public space and the people who live, work or move around in the special space," Qin said. "That's why artists should first grasp the essence of the space as well as the common values of the people active in it."
Public art is difficult to create because, in many instances, it is difficult for an artist to define the environment and the people's varied interests and tastes, says Qin. Still, he argued, it should be the joint efforts of designers and artists as well as any sponsor to find appropriate works to fit public spaces of varing atmospheres.
But, in the digital age, still-life paintings or sculptures sometimes no longer satisfy changing tastes for art. Artists are experimenting with all kinds of instruments and materials to create works in various forms and reflecting huge changes in modern China ,such as urbanization and the Internet mania. "Whatever the materials or forms, a good piece of artwork in a public space is not necessarily the one you see, but always the one you feel and are emotionally connected to or inspired by," Qin said.