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Classic scenes come to life
Publication Date : 05-01-2014
Characters, animals and classical scenes from a Taiwan illustrator's picture books assume 3-D form in a public space
Shanghai's Joy City is hosting the year's largest exhibition of artworks by Jimmy Liao, the acclaimed illustrator from Taiwan who is famous for his romantic and exquisite picture books loved by metropolitan youth.
Characters, animals and classical scenes from his two books, How to Own a Corner and One More Day with You, were put into reality through artists' designs.
At the entrance of Joy City are two rocking horses, one big and one small, decorated with pieces of colourful hand-woven cloth. These "rocking horses in dreams" are designed by artists Nicole Deng from Taiwan and Nial O'Connor, an Irish-born Australian illustrator who is now living in Shanghai, echoing the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year of the Horse in 2014.
The main hall on the third floor has been turned into a large circus with large sculptures of an elephant, giraffe, lion, bear and sea lion greeting visitors. Careful readers of Liao will be happy to find the circus tent, the animals and scenes are exactly the same as in the book.
There is more to explore inside the tent. A dozen large drawings from the two books are displayed on the wall of the tent. Resonating with the exhibition's theme, How to Own a Corner, artists from Taiwan and Sweden created some of the world's secret corners in their minds.
The most extraordinary part in the main tent is the "pry into small worlds" area in which a dozen crystal balls, about 20 centimetres in diameter, shine in the darkness. Inside each crystal ball is a tiny world: a snowy village, a lonely parking lot or a wind-power station. Colorful light beams sweep through the balls and dazzle visitors.
Walking out of the tent and looking up, one can see six giant sculptures of Xiao Mi, a character in Liao's book, hanging in the air. Xiao Mi poses in different gestures as if he is flying in the sky, which - together with the cute animals on the ground - produces an illusion that people are living in the world Liao created.
There are also plenty of souvenirs for sale, such as wallets, notebooks, photo frames and table lamps with themes from Liao's works.
"Many shopping malls hold exhibitions now but I think this one is the most impressive," says Huang Yuting, a 28-year-old woman in Shanghai who works for a local company.
"I first read Jimmy's "Turn Left, Turn Right" in high school and fell in love with his books from then on. I feel his drawings have a magical power of touching the heart."
Liao had suffered from leukemia and recovered after spending much time in the hospital. The idea of life being fragile and the stress that comes with the thought of losing loved ones always is an undertone of his works, which have captivated a large number of urbanites.