The pedestrianized section of Nanjing East Road stands representative of Shanghai's urban memory; at once long-storied and modern, “the number one commercial street in China” is a repository of all the cultural and historical connotations of long-established traditional commercial emporia. At the head of them all stood the No. 1 Department Store, which opened its doors in October 1949 as Shanghai’s first state-run department store after the establishment of the People’s Republic. Stepping forward in time, the No. 1 Department Store has undergone a change of name to become the No. 1 Shopping Center, and the very shape of its premises has undergone an update too. In 2017, the No. 1 Department Store building was linked together with two other major neighboring historical commercial premises on Nanjing East Road via staircases, walkways, and even a dome, crossing a side street to the west—Liuhe Road. History and modernity were joined as one to coexist and interact in a shared space.
Liuhe Road today has become both testament to the construction and renovation that created the No. 1 Shopping Center and a site that invigorates the public cultural life of Shanghai. The No. 1 Shopping Center and UCCA Lab are delighted to have invited artist Liu Yi to present the public art project “Spring is Everywhere” at this site over the coming Chinese New Year festive season.
Drawing inspiration from the name Liuhe Road—liu he or “six directions” means “everywhere” in traditional Chinese reading—the project uses the appealing connotations of “Spring is Everywhere” to make a site-specific response that also sits happily with the holiday season. The longer phrase of the Chinese title has its origins in a traditional “phonological” phase method of reckoning time, and was further subject to the folk practice of employing homophones, with “liu” sounding similar to the Chinese word for “deer,” and “he” sounding similar to the word for “crane.” The seasonality of the life cycles of these two living creatures was then used to determine the change in season. In folk culture the deer is known as the “beast of the seasons,” with the crane being the “bird of the seasons”—the deer sheds its antlers at summer solstice and grows new velvet in spring, while the crane is migratory, coming and going with the seasons. The meeting of deer and crane became a metaphor for the arrival of spring. Liu Yi has made the approaching mao (one of the traditional twelve Earthly Branches) Year of the Rabbit his starting point for the creation of five all-new sculpture based on the theme of “Spring is Everywhere”: Rabbit Gate, a term that also refers metaphorically to the east; Deer and Crane, which as we have seen signifies spring; Flower Moon; Chinese Toon, a tree whose Chinese name is a homophone for spring; Flower Moon; and Home.
Liu Yi takes scenes and incidents from his life, personal thoughts, and impulses and transforms them into an ongoing artistic creation. His creative starting point in the “Spring is Everywhere” sculptures is the direct control he exercises through his fingers touching a screen. A primal and agile back-and-forth painting motion of a part of the body in contact with a piece of digital equipment comes to constitute his personal mode of expression and painterly style. There is an intimate link between the artist’s control of line, color, light and shade, and even texture and his physical experiences in time and space.
Yi-fu Tuan, the father of humanistic geography, once said, “Past events make no impact on the present unless they are memorialized in history books, monuments, pageants, and solemn and jovial festivities that are recognized to be part of an ongoing tradition.” Cultural memory requires constant relocation, revival and renewal; the artist has refined cultural signifiers and natural elements into visual models that are original, in tune with contemporary taste, and which produce a feeling of affinity. The combination of this assemblage of works brings imagery and concepts brimming with vitality to Liuhe Road.
Liu Yi’s practice explores the relationships between body and space, spirits and materials, individual and public, presence and absence of culture. The unique style of combining classic figure with contemporary colors， presented in the daily digital drawing on his smart phone, has interpreted not only artist’s curiosity and mythological imagination of life, but also his personal memories and experiences. The drawings, which seemed like children’s doodling, have shared overwhelming empathy with the audiences since the works reflected vivid life experiences. Meanwhile, Liu Yi has also taken his interest in creating narratives lying between digital media, materiality and subject. Thus, his artistic practice has taken place in both graphic and spatial ways based on daily life and social scenery.
Researcher of Institute for Public Art (IPA), director of Shanghai Designer Association. Member of Shanghai Artists Association.Liu Yi is the founder of 61CREATIVE studio.Former course leader for Public Art Department in Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts (SIVA). External experts of Product Design College of Shanghai Arts & Design Academy. Visiting professor of the School of Art and Design, Ji Mei University.ABTEILUNG KULTUR UND BILDUNG Generalkonsulat der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 《Bauhaus Class 2.0》mentor.Tutor of workshop "historical heritage and public art" of Anhalt University of Applied Technology, Germany. Tutor of future lab art and Design Innovation future Education Expo workshop.
Consultant of NOTCH Nordic and China Art Festival and executive curator of “Shanghai: Re-design” of Design Shanghai . Executive curator of “Shanghai: Re-design” of Design Shanghai.Curator of “ Lumiéres China” XINTIANDI Light Festival. Curator of "Design Fuelling Station" and "Local Design Beat’"in Shanghai Art & Design.Shanghai Project public art project researcher.Shanghai student design art competition judges.
"Art implanted medical space professional education model practice in exploration" won the Second Prize of Shanghai-level Teaching Achievement Award.Germany BASF Material innovation workshop mentor.2018 Japan npo S-AIR resident invited artist.Fosun Foundation resident invited artist.Chengdu A4 ART MUSEM resident invited artist.
Bailian Inc. is a large-scale comprehensive listed company under Bailian Group that mainly focuses on retail operations. Covering department stores, shopping malls, outlets and other retail formats, adhering to the " Creating Your Wonderful Life", based in Shanghai, radiating the country, with the first Yaohan, the First Department Store Commercial Center, the Oriental Commercial Building (flagship store), Bailian Nanfang Shopping Center, Bailian Outlets Plaza (Qingpu), Yong An Department Store，Bailian TX Huaihai and other more than 40 well-known member enterprises.
No.1 Shopping Center is located at the intersection of Nanjing Road Walkway. It is a well-known enterprise of Shanghai Bailian Group. Building A was the original No.1 Department Store. It was founded in October 1949. It is the first state-owned department store in Shanghai after the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Mayor Chen Yi called it "our own store". No.1 Shopping Center has ranked first place in the annual sales of department stores in China for 14 consecutive years since 1985. It is the primary destination for shopping in China. Deng Xiaoping visited and shopped in the store on February 18, 1992.
In order to adapt to the development of transformation and upgrading, the No.1 Shopping Center was established in 2017, under the full support of Bailian Group and Bailian Shares. The No.1 Department Store, new and east building of the former No.1 Department Store (Orient Shopping Center Nan Dong Dian) were merged. No.1 Shopping Center crosses Liuhe Road and has a total area of nearly 120,000 square meters. It featured eight new themed areas, integrating the classic Shanghai style with the trend of The Times. No.1 Shopping Center has built a large commercial complex with the character of Shanghai. It strives to bring new experiences for every modern city dweller.