a traveling exhibition
After the exhibition in Beijing had to be repeatedly postponed due to the pandemic, the organizer moved the exhibition to Chongqing, to the Hong Art Museum Chongqing. 
That’s not a bad alternative for a few reasons: Chongqing didn’t have a lockdown, it’s quite a big city with over 30 million inhabitants and there are many rich people – so some can afford my paintings 😊 Now the exhibition will last 8 weeks instead of the original 4 weeks in Beijing. And I’ve been there three times before and liked the city. However, I find it somewhat unfair that my pictures undertake more extensive journeys than their creator 🙂
Having an exhibition in China these days is an expensive affair and I would never have agreed if I didn’t have energetic supporters whom I would like to thank again. 
Below is my recent work on Chongqing – the spring rains there are special.
It is always amazing how much China has changed in the last few decades. In a very short time, poor areas were transformed into highly modern metropolises.
With Chongqing, I have some special memories. For me, this city is connected to a painter I met in Beijing in 1979: Xue Mingde 薛明德. Mingde was definitely one of the most unusual artists I met in China. And about him and Chongqing I want to tell you a few purrs:
1979, the bad days of the Cultural Revolution had just ended and tender shoots of freedom were beginning to sprout. Suddenly there was a so-called “democracy wall” on the most important street in Beijing and daring people posted their wall newspapers there with often quite critical content. At the time, I painted an oil painting with people in front of this “democracy wall” (Of course, the face masks have primarily symbolic meaning).
There were avenue trees along the road (Chang’an Avenue) and Xue Mingde had stretched a line between 2 trees and hung his pictures on it (like hanging laundry out to dry). He had just been released from prison in Sechuan (With his irrepressible urge for freedom, he had taken on the local police.) and, convinced that he was one of the greatest painters of all time, he wanted the metropolis of Beijing to know that too. We got talking, he was very excited that a foreigner liked his pictures and soon we’ll see each other more often. I’ve met a lot of “introvert” artists, but Xue might top the list.
Xue was difficult to deal with and hyperactive, and the only way to endure being together was for us to paint each other. You could publish your own collection of stories about this man.
I first visited Chongqing when I took a boat up the Yellow River from Wuhan to Chongqing.  Unforgettable how I found a place at the bow of the ship in the morning hours and painted the landscape. Light, airy work with gouache. Behind me, one deck down, a Chinese music group played beautiful music…
As I stretched my legs and stood at the railing, I saw a dead body floating past the ship. Two Chinese stood behind me and one said: “Probably the only way for us Chinese to go abroad”.
When I came to Chongqing for the second time, Xue, who had just been released from prison again, came to my hotel and wanted to show me the real Chongqing the next day. So we walked along the streets and soon it became clear what this special sightseeing should be: Again and again he stopped to proudly explain to the people: “This is my friend from Austria”. But that shouldn’t have left much of an impression. Xue was also relatively ragged for that time and with shaggy hair, and my appearance also took some getting used to long hair, a long beard, and a Mao suit….
A couple of years later I visited Chongqing again (honeymoon). I was very fond of Peking opera at the time and had only just started to discover local operas. So a visit to the opera in Chonqing was on the agenda. We hadn’t had dinner yet and saw a street food stand selling some kind of fondue. Well, it was an incredibly large pot, filled with water, and covered with a layer of oil and hot spices. You chose meat, vegetables… and the good man briefly boiled it in the broth and when he took it out, the food was of course coated with the spicy oil. Whatever you can imagine as hot doesn’t come close. Of course, we didn’t finish eating and on the way to the opera the “hot “really set in. At that time you could hardly buy drinks anywhere, our mouths burned like fire. Then we met a peasant who was carrying a bundle of cane sticks on his back. He sold us one, peeled it for us and we, dying of thirst, began to suck the sweet juice from the sticks.
But we were rewarded with one of the craziest and most unusual performances imaginable. Absurd, and surreal, outside of anything I’d seen before.
This is only an example of a more modern kind of Chongqing opera, which unfortunately does not live up to the old one. Still quite nice – watch the face: 
Opening: 05.07.2022 – 15.00 Uhr
Duration: 05.07. – 05.09. 2022
 Three Gorges (san xia: 长江三峡水利枢纽工程)
 This example here is a specialty of Chongqing Opera: bian lian (变脸 change faces). Each time the performer removes his fans from his face, a different face is revealed.
Leave a Reply