Bridging cultures with art

Updated: 2013-10-24 13:23

By Bi Nan (

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Bridging cultures with art

Shanghai: A New Vista, by Xu Jianguo. [Photo provided to]

Urban landscape paintings

It was the painting Shanghai: A New Vista exhibited at the Shanghai World Expo that helped Xu become widely known to the Chinese people. The painting is always compared to a modern version of the famous Chinese ancient painting Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival.

The western method on color was used to capture the vibrant city lights in its 8-meter-long color version, depicting Shanghai transitioning from dusk to dawn.

Xu says, "It is an attempt to urbanize Chinese mountain and river painting; it is an attempt to move from tackling natural mountains and rivers to tackling manmade mountains and rivers."

In 1991, Xu had already achieved fame in New York. But after visiting his hometown Shanghai several times, the dramatic changes the city had undergone bothered him and inspired him to retain the city landscape on a canvas.

After 14 years of work, the painting was finally made available to the public, which is almost the same size as Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival. The age-old painting depicts the ancient capital Kaifeng during the Song Dynasty, with crowds of people in the street, while Xu's depiction of Shanghai focuses more on architecture. Xu gave viewers his observations on modern city landscapes.

Xu has also turned to other western and eastern cities like New York and Guangzhou to perpetuate each city's scenery with his painting brush. The urban landscape paintings fused with western and eastern styles feature his unique artistic vision.