Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Another museum or two…

First of all, here is the hall rug from our hotel……


One problem that I had yesterday on my trip to the museum was that my purse started splitting in two places.   I had bought it right before we left and was enjoying how easily it was working, but alas it was not to continue!!  So, on Wednesday I made a quick trip to a local mall. 

One of Michael’s colleagues instructed me to travel by metro to one particular station and that it exited into the mall.  I got off of the train and was horrified to find out that there were SIX exits out of the station!!!  Fortunately, I had taken a photo on my phone of the name of the mall (in Chinese) so I was able to show this to a station employee and he pointed me in the right direction.

The mall was huge with a basement and six floors of stores…..


Fortunately, the exit that I had taken dumped me out at a Department store with purses the first thing that I saw, AND they were on sale too.   I ended up buying one there but decided to explore the mall a bit as well.

Each type of store was in a separate area of the mall so you had all of the electronics stores together and all of the sports apparel stores in another area, etc. 

I passed a HUGE arcade area and loved watching this group of Dads and Sons enjoying a leisurely game of video fishing…..


On the main floor, the decorations were hosting a circus theme…..


…..with brightly color tents and streamers.

There were cartoon character statues all over  the area and the cell phone cameras were being well used as parents took photos of kids and young women and men took photos of themselves with these colorful creations.

The best part of the scene for me was a little girl (maybe 3 years old) who was posing for her mother.  I watched as she carefully and determinedly set her two fingers to the required “V” formation before smiling for the photo.

I passed a large grocery store and went in to pick up a few needed items.  I loved the checking out process as the checker bowed to me before they started scanning items and again as they handed me my change!!  Maybe Publix should adopt this as well!!

In the evening, we were taken to dinner by two of Michael’s students…..


The food was fairly normal, but I did like this plate of chicken……DSC08665

…complete with the head AND the feet!!!

On Thursday morning, I headed to the Guangdong Museum of Art.  I had been impressed by the website and was anxious to see the exhibits in person…. I was NOT disappointed.

Once again, a driver’s license was all that was required to enter and I happily began my tour.   The entire second floor was devoted to a Retrospective of work by Choong Kam Kow, a Malaysian Contemporary senior artist.  He was born in 1934 and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961 in Taiwan.  He then moved thru various degree programs, including training in the US as a Fulbright scholar.

I watched an interview with him and appreciated several of his comments.   He said that Contemporary art must reflect traditional value. or at least the traditional value and form must be reinterpreted in contemporary art so that there is continuity in our culture from old to new.  He also felt that traditional Chinese culture needed to be reflected in art and not just follow Western norms.

He prefers to call his retrospective an “Evolving, Creative Journey”, and believe me, it did fit that description…..this man did NOT work himself into a rut!!!

He preferred to work in a series format and the first ones that I saw were watercolors in his Taipei Street Scene series…..IMG_7666

I apologize for the photos not being straight on.   The lighting was such that I had to photograph from an angle to avoid the glare!!

Next were a series of abstract expressionist ink paintings that did not tickle my fancy at all…..


Then came “Creative Interpretative Figure Drawing”…..


I particularly appreciated the few very bold lines that accentuated the shapes and the details that were left to the imagination.  The style was very effective.

These pieces had been displayed in one of the hallway areas and I now entered one of the main galleries……IMG_7688

It was breathtaking!!!

This gallery contained work from 1985 thru 1994 and his art was based on an expedition into the ENdao Rompin rain forest.   The first series was entitled “Rockscape and Earthscape” and the paintings were astounding.

Many of them were painted on thick handmade paper, using Acrylic paint…..


The paper was thick, knobbled and rough and I wondered how he was able to get the paint down into the crevices of the paper.

In some of the paintings, he actually carved into the paper to give yet another dimension to the art……


In this gallery he also had a series of oil paintings of rock formations that were amazing…..


There was a guard in each gallery and the one in this exhibition motioned for me to wait for a minute as he left his post and returned with a booklet describing all of the exhibits in English…..it was a thoughtful gesture!!

The next gallery contained “The Dragon Tradition Series”.  These were all brightly colored pieces with the dragons’ being hard to find…..


I couldn’t even see the dragons in this piece……IMG_7695

…but when Michael returned with me the next day, he immediately pointed out the two “kissing” dragons in the bottom third of the painting.

The exhibition continued with “The Kungfu Series” which explored the classical body positions of the Kungfu fighter….IMG_7699

The things that stood out to me in these paintings were the fact that although the foreground figures and the backgrounds are basically the same color, the figures are very distinct from the background.  I also appreciated the “pointillist” approach to the backgrounds.

Finally, I noticed the almost imperceptible borders that were included in the painting….. IMG_7709

So, are you singing “Kungfu Fighting” yet?   I am!!!

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Dr. Choong was in New York and was exposed to and influenced by the contemporary art movements, especially Geometric Abstraction and Minimalism.

In “The New York Series” he leaned toward abstraction….


…whereas “The Shaped Canvas Series” was a completely different art form…..IMG_7716

Finally, “The See Thru Series” made use of three dimensional pieces with acrylic overlays allowing the viewer to see thru (and sometimes down into) the art……IMG_7718

This is the (paraphrased) introduction to his “Festival Series”….1970’s saw institutions, art historians and artists actively engaged in discussions with an aim to finding ways to develop the Malaysian identity in modern art.   Dr. Choong was very much impacted and inspired by this movement.  Consequently, he departed from dealing with international modernism and retuned to his own land to search for local identity.  The notions of cultural identity were discovered, transformed and expressed in his “Festival Series”….


This artwork was mostly three dimensional and contained a lot of hand made paper and molded paper, embellished with types of embossing .   The colors were vibrant and exciting!!!

My favorites were these three, especially the  two on the right and left side.  They had a very “quilt-y” feel to them…..


I took a panoramic photo in this gallery and love the results……DSC08672


The final series was called “The Rhythm of Growth” where he explored the growth of mushrooms.  That sounds fairly boring, but his paintings were certainly not!!!


This last painting didn’t really seem to fit in any category but it caught my eye.  It was titled “The Fate”


….with fish happily swimming in the middle section, lying dead on the ocean floor at the bottom and on ice at the fish market at the top!!!

The top floor of the museum was devoted to the photographic works of Li Chan.  These were amazing works where the artist was able to show light…..IMG_7736

…and such amazing detail (look at the water droplets  on her eyelashes)…..


I returned to the first floor to find a mixture of galleries from local artists.  There was an entire room of busts but this one stood out to me…..


….probably because of his kind, gentle expression, as opposed to the bold, haughty expressions on the others!!!

There were a series of black and white scroll paintings on paper which were interesting…..


However, I was more interested as to why the pieces all contained one or more red seal marks, often in places that seemed to detract from the picture…..IMG_7746

I put Google to the test and found out that these seals (or “Chops”) can indicate either who executed the painting or who owned it.  The seals are set in Vermillion red and use an ancient script type that was used during the Zhou and Qin dynasties.  Over the years these seals have been used to authenticate paintings, but as they can be readily copied or forged, they may prove to be less than reliable evidence.  The design of the seal has turned into an art form in itself, the challenge being to find ways to fit the relatively predictable characters into an interesting composition.”

I wandered outside to the sculpture gallery and had a fun time(in between rain showers)  with the artwork displayed there.  I loved this metal tree…..


…especially with the green wall and Canton tower in the background!!

I also liked this very TALL and SKINNY woman…..



…and this crowd of interesting pillars……


As I exited the building, I found these two sculptures that I liked as well…..




There were several concert halls sharing the courtyard and I loved these two additional sculptures.   When I look at the first one, I see a conductor encouraging the orchestra to give it all you’ve got……


….and this stylized pianist is magnificent……


There was another museum on the same property and I showed my license and walked in.  I went thru the entire museum before I ever figured out what it was for!!!!   In passing I saw interesting Chinese dominoes…..


….a fun piece of beaded art…..


….and some really cool chairs that were actually NOT part of the exhibit…..IMG_7785

In the end I discovered the following information……

“Guangdong province has always been China’s gateway to the outside world.  Since antiquity, the people of Guangdong journeyed overseas on land and by sea, transforming themselves into ethnic Chinese outside of China.  They worked to improve the lives and values of their ancestral home towns as well as their new homes”

And that was the purpose of this museum…..to show where and how far the Chinese people had migrated!!!

As I sat in the taxi heading back to the hotel, I realized that I prefer art museums to history museums.  I think that is because in an art museum, you don’t have to know what is going on, you can just enjoy the art!!!!

I also witnessed a sweet interaction from the back of my taxi.   There was a bicycle being pushed by a young man and it had SEVEN automobile tires balanced on it.  He lost control of the bike and it turned over on its side  Although he made several attempts to right the bike, he couldn’t lift it with the added weight.  Two men were eating lunch a short distance away and, when they saw his distress, ran over to help him put the bike aright again!!!

On Friday, Michael had the day off so we decided to spend a bit of time sight seeing and a bit of time resting.  The sight seeing took us back to the art museum because I knew that he would enjoy the Retrospective work. 

We also headed to a small museum that we had visited briefly on our last trip, the  Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nanyue King.  This tomb is 2,000 years old and was discovered in downtown  Guangzhou in 1988.  The museum showcases the tomb and its trove of artifacts.  The tomb yielded more than 1,000 burial artifacts, along with the bones of fifteen courtiers  who were buried alive with him to serve him in death..

This silk-jade garment made up of 2,291 pieces of jade is the spotlight of the mausoleum……


The museum hosts some interesting items, but the lighting is poor and the extreme humidity was causing many of the exhibit cases to fog up.  consequently, we didn’t spend too long there.

A typhoon had moved thru the day before and today was extremely hot, muggy and sticky, but at least there was no smog!!

We were free for our last night’s meal so we journeyed again to So & Co for a very enjoyable meal.  Michael ordered a double espresso at the start of the meal and then ordered a second one at the end.   Our waitress was hilarious as she couldn’t believe that he wanted more caffeine.  Later, he ordered a glass of wine and she said  “as long as it isn’t more espresso” Obviously he had been cut off!!!!

So tomorrow we head for India!!!


Finally, as we leave Guangzhou, I have to talk about the hotel and the bathrooms.  There was no actual bath ROOM, but a series of 2 rooms (toilet and shower) and an alcove with the sink.   The only problem with this arrangement is that there were full length mirrors in front of the glass shower AND in front of the glass door for the toilet area so you could watch yourself as you did your business.IMG_7810

I kept hanging towels on the door bars to provide a modicum of privacy but the maids kept moving them!! 

Ahhhh the fun of hotel life!!!!

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