© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.
My new home-cooked dish – noodle soup with smoked tofu and dried fungus has kept me energized as I battled away with new work and the Beijing climate over November.
Beijing studio portrait - Kate Jordahl.
My exhibition opening here in Beijing was attended by 80 people on a very cold sleety evening and thankfully ended up a rather busy night. Speeches were spoken, lots of looking occurred then off to a lovely dinner party at a local artists studio, finally a few drinks of rum to ward off the cold. Today I look out the window at the messy sky. It is zero Celsius and misty. The artificial ‘scholar stones’ being created across the path look like ancient bits of weathered boulders but they are fake. Just like all the luxury items for sale in the many markets and the counterfeit 100 RMB notes spat out to me from a Chinese banks ATM machine.
This massive rocky republic can look like a giant bumbling child that crudely mimics things in order to learn new skills and “do business” Large, hungry to change and hesitant to take the stage globally make this nation confusing. The possibility of stumbling is real and if this enormous nation falls awkwardly that will be very painful for all involved. On the other hand modern China is constructed from a highly developed culture that spans over 5,000 years so the scholars are certainly here but what will one fifth of our planet do with its potential? To where shall this mass of people be led? On the huge publicity posters in the nearby new-ish Caochangdi Art zone it states; in Chinese and English - Art, harmony, joy, justice, abundance and peace. That’s all good and certainly a positive slogan list but can China actually achieve all its desires?
The latent power within this land is too big for me to forecast anything and guessing where China will expend its mammoth energy is very far beyond my comprehension!
I stroll about the National China art Museum looking at the old traditional ink painters like Lin Fengmien, Qi Baishi and Ya Ming. Their work calms my woes. Visitors arrived and left over the past month - Mr John Batten from Hong Kong and the photographers Kate and Geir Jordahl along with Oliver Klink blew into Beijing to explore, eat, drink, watch, wonder and take a few pictures as well.
One last trip out from Beijing to see the interesting city of QingZhou in Shandong. A pointy train took me there zooming along at over 300 km per hour in a very modern Chinese style. Once there I investigated a gallery and a future art residency possibility as well as strolling around the ancient Ming Village of Jingtang. It was a cold but sunny day with hawthorn berry tea, pig’s ears and cabbage salad and a massive assortment of local farmers foods for lunch with a charming government official, his wife, my curator Yue Sung and others…
I leave the capital city with the boring dry cough that is common here, the “Beijing bark”. Also accompanying me is a pile of art, my stomach is full of dumplings, my head full with five spiced memories and a lot of wondering spins about in my head. I jump on another plane as I recall this phrase below. A “chinglish” label I found on my egg noodles packet describing perfectly how I feel as I pack my bags and say farewell to China–
‘Good quality nutsitiue and delicious feeling of metsopolis of happiness!’