Arts

Chinese textbook illustrations have come under fire.

Suggestive Chinese textbook illustrations: An infiltration by the West?

Recently, there has been an uproar in China over illustrations in school textbooks, with comments that the characters drawn are “ugly”, with some depicted in suggestive poses and wearing questionable designs on clothing. Is this merely a question of aesthetics, or does the problem go deeper? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks into the issue.
Primary school students work with flour during a cooking lesson in school, in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province, China, on 13 May 2022. (Xinhua)

Chinese kids to undergo nine years of culinary training: Parents are worried 

China’s education ministry recently introduced a new curriculum for primary and secondary students with the aim of teaching life skills. From cooking to technology applications, young children will be better equipped to face society. However, parents have voiced their concerns about the added burden on both children and parents.
The late theatre pioneer Kuo Pao Kun, whose plays and teachings have shaped a generation of theatre makers in Singapore. (The Theatre Practice)

True gems: Singapore’s pioneers of the arts deserve more credit

Teo Han Wue laments that we are not doing enough to remember the remarkable contributions that Singapore’s pioneers of the arts have made. Singapore’s early artists and theatre practitioners were the avant-garde who went beyond the tried and tested in China or elsewhere. If we don’t remember our past achievements, how can we be inspired to produce greater things in the future?
An illustration and text by the writer. (Lim Jen Erh)

My secret manuals of life

Former journalist Lim Jen Erh describes his habit of carrying a notebook with him and filling them with his thoughts and doodles. For him, this process is as rigorous and rewarding as writing “secret manuals” of life. Rather than finding secret formulas to live by, he composes them for himself, leaving a trail of clues to look back and ruminate on as life goes on.
Quarantine workers in personal protective equipment (PPE) at a residential building during a lockdown due to Covid-19 in Shanghai, China, on 20 April 2022. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Singaporeans in Shanghai: How to cope when a city shuts down during the pandemic

Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing speaks with Singaporeans who are based in Shanghai to find out how the resurgence of Covid-19 cases has impacted them. While some have gone through great pains to escape the locked down city, others have stayed behind, sharing the hardship — and joys — with the local community.
Lion Rock in Hong Kong at sunset. (Photo: Nhk9/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Cultural historian: A woman swinging on a branch and an abused tree

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai remembers the days when he lived at the foot of a hill in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Tong district. He enjoyed the serene calm and respected nature’s bounty, but he can’t say the same for some hill visitors who would ”abuse” the trees and take them for granted. Even giving trees will one day be worn out.
Teo Han Wue's black-and-white print entitled Pan Shou's Calligraphy. (Photo: Teo Han Wue)

Must one read Chinese to appreciate Chinese calligraphy?

Teo Han Wue has always believed that one need not be literate in the Chinese language to appreciate calligraphy. He was heartened that many others seem to share his view, going by how well-received a photograph of Singaporean poet-calligrapher Pan Shou’s calligraphy was at his solo photography exhibition recently. Without him regaling them with tales of Pan Shou, they found their own delight appreciating this artform through an image of an image.
Visitors walk in front of "HOLD ONTO YOUR BITCOIN" by Gustav Szabo, known as Szabotage, which will be converted into NFT and auctioned online at Sotheby's, at the Digital Art Fair, in Hong Kong, China, 30 September 2021. (Tyrone Siu/File Photo/Reuters)

The uncertain future of NFTs in China

The non-fungible token (NFT) is a growing phenomenon in China, despite a cautious regulatory environment and official hostility to cryptocurrencies, which also use blockchain technology. But experts warn that as with every technology, particularly new ones, there is also a risk of misuse, such as in instances of fraud or compromised accounts.
A digital recreation of the painting Along the River During the Qingming Festival (清明上河图, Qingming Shanghe Tu) is seen on display at the exhibition, A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art, at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre, Singapore. (SPH)

Copying is a virtue in Chinese ink painting

Temporary orders to halt the KAWS public art installation exhibition led Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre CEO Low Sze Wee to ponder the copyright issues of Chinese ink paintings. He notes that many of Singapore’s first-generation artists like Chen Wen Hsi and Fan Chang Tien were educated in Shanghai in the 1920s and were deeply influenced by the Shanghai School. Copying was a common mode of learning, and students like Henri Chen Kezhan and Chua Ek Kay did their best to copy the works of their teachers. While they eventually developed their own styles over time, Low says it could be argued that their achievements were made possible by their formative years spent on copying.