Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shanghai Exhibition Opening

Jin Xin, Alvaro Castagnet, Olga Simmons

Whew. As David Burge said the other day, we put a "global pincer movement" on the watercolor world last week: my wife Olga at the Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolor Biennial Exhibition, and I was in Hendersonville, NC for the Kanuga Watercolor Workshop (Kanuga post to follow soon). See earlier post about judging the Shanghai exhibition HERE. More photos from the opening and links to artists will be added as I get them.

More pics added today! (April 19) Six photos courtesy Kathy Salminen.

More pics added today! (April 23) Six photos courtesy Javier Oña -- see much more on Javier's blog HERE.

I was not able to make the opening, so Olga represented me and had a fabulous time. Before all of the events, she went into Shanghai with Alvaro Castagnet and his lovely wife Ana, accompanied by my friend (who is also a very good artist), Jin Xin. They checked out the Bund and historic Yu Gardens.

Jin Xin, Olga, Alvaro, Ana Castagnet

The other judges -- Ong Kim Seng, David Taylor, David Paskett, Changjiang Wu, Tieshan Huang, Weixin Wang, Jian Chen, and Xidan Chen -- reconvened, along with many of the award winners from the world over. I'm familiar with all from the international field, but I'm very sorry not to have had the chance to meet the Chinese artists, the majority of whom are unknown in the West. I think this will change as a result of the exhibition, and there are two or three dozen who are simply mindblowing. It's tempting to post some of their paintings (I took lots of photos while judging in March), but its best to see them reproduced so beautifully in the book (see below).

Alvaro, Ong Kim Seng, Olga, David Taylor

There was a dinner the night before the opening in a private dining room of the 5-star Royal Tulip Garden Hotel where many toasts and friendships were made amidst a gourmet feast of Chinese cuisine. Olga was overwhelmed by the hospitality and attention paid her, which comes as no surprise following my visit. These people not only embrace those of us from the West, they have a profound respect and admiration for watercolor. As an artist, it's a wonderful feeling that borders on celebrity and I'm sure we all could get used to that!

Royal Tulip Garden Hotel dinner

The next day, April 15, involved a tour of the Zhujiajiao district and another spectacular lunch before the opening. The hotel hosted a reception and press conference with the media, and many speeches were made for the exhibition and its future as the most important watercolor event in the world. 2.5 million visitors are expected in the Quanhua Gallery during the Expo. The Chinese government has officially committed to supporting it for a long time, based on the success of this inaugural show.

At the Quanhua Gallery, guests saw 244 paintings selected out of approximately 25oo entries from over 2000 artists, representing 19 countries. 15 equal awards of excellence were granted. The judges are also displaying work. Everything has been gorgeously framed at no cost to the artists. The winners, in addition to prize money and having their work inducted into the Quanhua permanent collection, were also flown to Shanghai and stayed at the Royal Tulip Garden. I'm quite sure there isn't another watercolor organization in the world that does this -- they spared no expense!

Russian Woman by Nicholas Simmons

International field award winners (6): Xiaochang Zhang, Alvaro Castagnet, Brian Stratton, John Salminen, Mark Mehaffey. Joseph Zbukvic was unable to attend.

Award winners from China (9)were Yongjin Chen, Wei Hou, Zhenwen Jiang, Changshou Wang, Weicai Wang, Yong Wang, Zhoutian Xue, Xiao Yang, Jitong Zhao. (unfortunately, I'm unsure of who's who in the photos)

A string quartet played at the gallery, and a dedication ceremony preceded the awards. Chinese girls in traditional costumes attended, and thousands of photographs were taken of the artists and judges. In this respect, it was probably better to have Olga there than yours truly, ha. A formal banquet followed at the hotel where more speeches were made, and endless toasts offered.

There is no way to adequately thank the people responsible for this huge shot in the arm that watercolor sorely needed, nor to thank all of them. However, the biennial would not have been possible without the organization and leadership of Liu Dawei, Chao Weilin, Gao Kang, Wu Changjiang, Zhang Guohong, Liu Jian, Huang Tieshan, Yang Jinsong, Sun Ping, Ding Jie, Wang Weixin, Liu Yaping, Liu Shouziang, Guan Weixing, Chen Jian, Zhou Gang, Qu Huimin, Tao Shihu, Gu Jun, Cao Weiming, Jiang Zhinan, and Ong Kim Seng.

Corporate sponsors include Artron, L' Art de L' Aquarelle, Canson, International Artist, and EMS.

Special thanks go to Zhang Guo Hong, Governor of the Qingpu District of Shanghai, and Qianlin Lu, CEO of Shanghai Zhujiajiao Investment & Development Co., Ltd. And the whole thing would never have happened if not dreamed up by Xidan Chen, esteemed Chinese watercolorist who lobbied for money and support. Last but certainly not least, I want to extend my gratitude to Xidan's daughter, JoJo, without whose tireless organizational efforts, liasion with the international field, and impressive translating talents, the exhibition would not have run so smoothly. Thank you Xidan and JoJo, I can't wait to return and see you again!

The exhibition book is incredible -- easily the most stunning collection of watercolor art I've ever seen in one place. This sets the standard for all other watercolor exhibitions and catalogs. 275 pages, printed on high quality paper, and very accurate color reproductions of every painting in the exhibition. There is also a small abridged version and a book of postcards. The book can be ordered from this link, and for a limited time, they are including the latest issue of The Art of Watercolor (English edition of l' Art de l' Aquarelle) which has a spread on the exhibition and also wonderful features on Shanghai exhibitors Janine Gallizia, David Poxon, and Guan Weixing.


Myrna Wacknov said...

Wow! What an exciting event! Can't wait to see the book. Sorry you had to miss the celebration but it was wonderful to meet you and visit a little. I will be sure and enter the next competition. Thanks for posting all the fabulous photos and descriptions of this event.

Mike said...

Holy C**p!! What an incredible event this had to be! I can see a few of my friends and this country's best painters among the award recipients in the photos. My gosh, Nick!!! Who knew that such an event and such paintings even existed. Am betting John S. and Mark M. will return with all sorts of oaths about taking their work to another level. I would have given a ton to have been there, too!! And, am really sorry you had to do something else. Your wife represented you well, for sure . . . . . .but it sure would have been better to have been there with her.

Simply amazing!
thanks for putting all this stuff up.

Sandeep Khedkar said...

Seems to have been a great experience! Thanks for sharing!

Fernando Pena said...

Hi Nick, thanks for all this information and photos you posted, great event

Micah Neff said...

What a wonderful post Nick, I feel like I was a little mouse along on the trip :) Bet Olga had a really great time! I'm also really wanting to see what China has been producing.

Sandy Maudlin said...

WOW! Thank you so much for posting all this and including the links to others. It's so exciting to see watercolor embraced and celebrated internationally in such an enormous way. So glad that you were chosen to be a judge and take part in it...and that Olga got to represent you..lucky guy - lucky gal! I promise that next time I'll listen to you and submit something.

Unknown said...

Nick, thank you so much for taking the time to prepare such an interesting post. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at the photos. Olga looks amazing! I am looking forward to receiving my book :-)))

Unknown said...

oh my gosh - thank you thank thank you nick for posting all this. it's so exciting it's almost as if i were there - almost. and thanks for the link on ordering the book. cannot wait to see it. just fantastic. and if not for you nick, i would not have even known this world - big thanks to you!! all the best - tom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting this up, Nick. Makes me feel like I was there too.

Nusret Topuzoğlu said...

WOW this was so exciting to read and look at!Thank you for putting all this together.I'm so looking forward to receive my copy of the book.

Nancy Lee Galloway said...

Whoa! This is unbelievably exciting, Nick! What an exhibition and what a wonderful opportunity for the watercolor world. We really owe you a debt for your tireless promotion of the medium on the internet with the exposure for, not only yourself, but the many other artists whom you encourage and befriend. Your talent and networking skills truly brought you to this point! Can't wait for the next one - methinks I'll give it a try!


thanks so much nick and olga for sharing this post

Susan Webb Tregay NWS said...

Thanks for the great blog, Nick. Feel like I went to it--without the jet lag. Can't wait to see the book.

Tonya Vollertsen said...

Wow, such a great and thorough posting of the big event! So sorry you couldn't be there. It looks like your wife did a great job of representing you in any case. Can't wait to see the book. Thanks for the link.

David Burge said...

What a great choice of ambassador! Olga looks to have
swept them of their feet!
Thanks for the comprehensive wrap of the opening which I'm sure is unique.
I just regret not having been in a position to be there.
Great post!

Nick said...

Myrna - what a surprise seeing you there, I'm looking forward to our next encounter!

Mike - I'm sorry to have missed it, but certainly not sorry to have been at Kanuga. Most of all -- besides the workshop and art experience -- getting to know you and Ted. More about that in the next blog post, come back soon tovarish!

Sandeep - more than "seems" - it was!

Fernando - get the book, you're in it :)

Micah - it's the best watercolor work I've ever seen, that's for sure, you might want to order the book too. I'm going back at least once this year, and also next year there is some stuff happening. I think that's where a good part of my future is.

Sandy - I talked you up at kanuga last week, were your ears burning? yes, you better put something in the Shanghai show next time

Amanda - your painting looks splendid in the book, you have good reason to be proud

Tom - ditto ^^^^, and your picture is also in the small abridged book

Frank - go to China, you'll see for yourself!

Nancy - your trip there last year got me warmed up to the task. shey shey
Not many artists promote and write about their contemporaries, and some actively work against others. I'm seeing it a lot in watercolor, and it is not good for the medium, or any medium for that matter. But there are some bright spots emerging - more on that in the next post.

Jane - I've heard Zhujiajiao referred to as the "Venice of China"...I think you'd feel right at home

Susan - I got home a month ago and I'm still waking up at 6 AM! Great meeting you last week, kanuga post coming up soon

Tonya - thanks, and I've had no time to make the blog rounds lately, will be over soon :)

Dake - Olga looked for your painting immediately, and said it looked fantastic. You're on page 42 in the book, and the repro is very good I think. I'm sorry you couldn't make it either, I would love to have seen you squeezed between Jin Xin and Alvaro in the pic!

Javier Ona said...

Hi Nick, just arrived from Shanghai beyond the ash cloud I find your excellent post.
It was a wonderful experience to be present at the opening ceremony and living these moments with so many and so big artists beside knowing your nice wife Olga in person.
We MISSED YOU a lot there.
Javier Ona

David Burge said...

Rub it in why don't ya!

Nick said...

Javier - you made it! I know David Paskett is leaving tomorrow morning, hope the winds cooperate!
Olga really enjoyed meeting you (great pic of you two!) and Teresa, I'm so glad you went over...but sorry I couldn't be there. We must rendezvous again soon, maybe when I come to girona in September. I hope you're ordering the book, you have 2 paintings in there!

Dake - ok, I'll make it 4x worse: you could have been squeezed between JinXin, Olga, Ana, and Jenine!!!! ha ha ha

William K. Moore said...

Thanks for the tour of the town and events Nicholas. Olga looks great having a blast on the East west coast. Your painting no doubt will attract many viewers as it departs from the watercolor norm in a necessary way. May this be the first of many Chinese exchanges for you and btw I'm working on an MSG antidote.. should be ready any day.

Alvaro Castagnet said...

Hi Nick!

Your Amigo Alvaro here, how are you?
It was a great pleasure to meet your wife Olga, shame you couldn't make it though! The whole event was terrific.
You did an amazing job describing it, so there is nothing more to add. Meeting artists from around the whole world is definitely one of the highlights of this trip.
Hope to catch up soon!
Until then,

Nick said...

Bill - when you're hanging your work next to the likes of these artists (such as the next guy, below), you better have something different to say. Otherwise nobody is going to listen! And that's where the genius of W.K. Moore comes in: nobody is doing what you are, nobody. Hurry up with that antidote, I'm going back soon!

Alvaro - mucho gracias querido amigo...she had the BEST week with you guys, I'm insanely jealous! Next time you stay at home and I get all the girls!!!! jejejeje See you soon I hope, compadre.

Carlos León Salazar said...

Great report my friend!!! congrats.

Nick said...

Carlos - I wish you would have entered the show, don't miss it next time, por favor!

wayne said...

HI Nick! ..seems i've been in some kind of time warp :P @ ..or plain 'warp' anyway heheh..
Man have you been busy! .. i knew you were.. could feel it.. and knew you were headed for China, ..and the world..
..well-deserved recognition you're receiving, and it's so great to see and realize that you not only a brilliant artist yourself, but also a great connector of people and minds and ideas, .. and a true ambassador of watercolo(u)r (imo one of the world's most underrated under-recognized, under-esteemed and one of the most technically challenging traditional art mediums ever).
..anyhow.. i will try and catch up on where you're at .. may take a while !
cheers and best wishes to you and family,

Nick said...

Wayne - somehow I missed this post, I'm sorry. During the lecture in Shanghai I talked about the great WR of course, only sorry you didn't have a picture in the exhibition. :( Now that I have a few of those marathon flights under my belt, I ought to be in shape for an excursion down under so I can finally meet the Man himself! Thanks for this post, and also I'm enjoying immensely your entried on Moore's blog, and his art inspires such fascinating discourse. Looking for more new posts on you F11. Please!