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Dancers in the dark 夜幕下的舞者



24cms (W) x 30cms (H)

Oil on Panel

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This one is about a friend of mine I got to know as she is married to a friend of mine. Originally, I was working on an art deco painting based on one of their wedding photos but it ended up being incongruous with this series' style. I'll finish that one later and write about it.

Anyway, she is a Psychology lecturer at a university. However, in her spare time she is a dance teacher and runs a dance studio. She sent me a lot of photos of the style of dance she teaches, which is traditional Chinese dance, though in the photos she sent me the most striking aspects were the dresses/costumes. This made me think about the giant bilboards you see in high-end malls in Shanghai that while similarly colourful are in stark contrast to the philosophy behind traditional dance. This made me think about doing a night scene, with this person in a humble setting (her dance studio) but presented in the same way a high-end fashion brand would advertise here.

These images are most striking in a night scene (because the lighting is so powerful) so I thought i'd try a night painting - which i've not done before. The buildings in the right side are nearby where they live and I liked the lighting effects on them.

The dance my friend is doing is based on a regional Chinese dance called the 'Peacock Dance'. The characters in the purple sign in the middle spell out the last character of 'traditional' and the characters for 'Peacock dance'. To continue the peacock theme (and to reflect the fact that I originally started on an art deco painting), I used a peacock feather art deco pattern on the illuminated wall below the bilboard.

Finally, linking to the theme of dance, one of the features of Shanghai life that is most intriguing to us foreigners is the practice of public exercise. It doesn't take long to get used to seeing people do Tai Chi in the park, but it's harder to become accustomed to people line dancing in the street at night whenever the weather is passable. It seems to be something that an older generation prefer, and apparently there is some concern about the noise pollution, so it's difficult to tell how long this will be a feature of the city. I thought this was worthwhile capturing, so the people in the foreground are all dancing.






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