Belgian artist leaves colorful impression on Shanghai

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-02 07:21

One five-story residential building in Shanghai's Pudong New District stands out from the others nearby, as it features a colorful mural of a little boy looking into the distance through a pair of binoculars.

"It's a bit mysterious, because onlookers don't know what the boy is looking at. It appears that he's looking into the future, but he is the only one who can see what his future looks like," said Bart Smeets from Belgium, the creator of the mural.

Smeets, 39, was among 15 artists from around the world invited to Shanghai to paint on walls at schools and on streets as part of a corporate social responsibility project with a theme of child care and animal protection. "My style is mostly photorealistic, but at the same time, I want to create something with a sense of fantasy because it's about children," the independent artist said on May 19, shortly before the piece was completed.

Smeets first applied a base color to the wall of the building, which is next to the municipality's elevated middle ring road. He marked the wall with little circles to ensure that he painted the right areas. After finishing his sketches, he started to systematically spray-paint the area.

"I made the boy really big and put a small boat next to him to play a little bit with the proportions and give it a sense of fantasy," Smeets said.

The boy in the painting is standing in a pond. Smeets said water is the element he uses most often in his paintings, and he has created a lot of pieces that picture animals underwater.

"The wall is always flat, but if you use water, you can create a three-dimensional space. For example, in this painting, when I have the water, I can have the reflection of the trees as well as the reflection of the boy's legs," he said.

He also incorporated some trees similar to those surrounding the wall to help it blend in with the environment.

The mural, which Smeets took a week to complete, has already caught the attention of passers-by.

Wang Jiadian, a 29-year-old who lives nearby, said: "The boy is looking in the same direction that the traffic on the elevated road is moving in. The piece is in harmony with its surroundings, and adds vitality and color."

Smeets has created murals in a number of countries. He recently completed projects in Russia and Ukraine, and after his trip to Shanghai, he will fly to Canada and then on to New Zealand.

"Every painting is different. So for me, my last wall painting has to be my best one," he said.

It is his first time in Asia and he said he was delighted that he can leave something behind.

"When people go on vacation, they don't leave anything behind. But I painted a wall here, and when I go home I can say, 'There is a wall painting in Shanghai that I made', and that is super cool," he said.

 Belgian artist leaves colorful impression on Shanghai

Bart Smeets poses in front of his painting on a residential building in Shanghai's Pudong New District.Provided To China Daily

(China Daily 06/02/2017 page7)

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