Sketching a disappearing city

Updated: 2014-06-26 09:19

(Shanghai Star)

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Sketching a disappearing city

Sketching a disappearing city
Preview of a Jeff Koons retrospective
Sketching a disappearing city

Graffiti art arises out of the shadows 

In a lane near Huashan Road, Hong discovered a small yanzhidian, or tobacco shop, a living room transformed into a shop by its owner, with tobacco, soft drinks, snacks and daily commodities crowded in a dark, shabby space. This kind of small shops were once scattered in narrow alleys across the city but have now been replaced by supermarkets and convenience stores.

"When I was young, I often ran an errand for my mom to buy a bottle of vinegar in the shop. Now, they are fading from our life," Hong says.

Hong now works as a graphic designer in a city planning company at the tallest office building in Puxi, west of the Huangpu River.

"Looking down from my office on the 36th floor, all the houses are lifeless, like real estate projects in a sandbox. Only when you go deep in the alleys can you feel the warmth and vibrancy of the city," he says.

Hong spent about 90 percent of his spare time sketching. He is fortunate to have a wife who also loves painting. In fact, their first date was sketching at the Tianma Mountain in Songjiang district.

Black, grey and red are the three colors Hong uses most in his sketches. They are the colors used by Hong's favorite cartoonist Zhang Leping, who is famous for his sketches of Shanghai in the 1930s.

"Frankly speaking, I don't think my sketches are excellent. I draw scenes that touch my heart and I feel happy and peaceful when drawing them," he says.