From made in China to Created in China

Eight CranesI had a pleasant flashback the other day about an arts course I have done during my exchange semester at the Hong Kong University . I guess the books that I am currently reading on creativity in China combined with bumping into an old post by fellow student Qilan Zhao must have triggered my mind.

Besides participating in my obligatory courses during my stay in Hong Kong I decided to sign up for an extra course: Arts, Politics and Society in Modern China. Books that I have recently obtained about the development and current state of the creative industries in China, such as Created in China by Michael Keane and China Contemporary made me think of a project I did for this course;  I did an analysis of a painting from a famous Hong Kong painter; Huang Yongyu. Huang Yongyu became famous for his own characteristic style of using traditional Chinese painting techniques in combination with bright, vibrant and fresh colours and the more Western use ink techniques. One of his most famous paintings is ‘The Winking Owl’ which was exhibitioned at the Black Painting Exhibition in March 1974.

detail of 8 cranesI analysed the piece ‘Eight Cranes’ which Yongyu has made in 1998 to celebrate the fact that after 50 years he had returned at the Hong Kong University museum. It is a rather big piece – 143 x 332 centimeters – with some typical Chinese characteristics; firstly the number eight is a number that represents fortune and property, also lotus flowers are thought of as the symbol for ultimate purity and perfection and lastly cranes have always been a symbol for longevity, a long life.

I really enjoyed the course which, besides a more historical overview, provided me with some great insights in how China is starting to develop its own creative industry. It looks like the Chinese government is realizing that creativity, high-end human capital and intellectual property are the keys to winning a permanent seat in the knowledge based economy.

Me and 8 cranes

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