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Shanghai Alleyway 上海小巷



30cms (W) x 40cms (H)

Oil on Canvas

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This was the first painting I did in Shanghai, and was a departure from my normal style and method. Normally I'd sit down and work something up in fairly high detail, trying to get a degree of realism over the course of several weeks or months.

This one was a little bit different. I'd just moved to Shanghai and my overriding impression was that the city was that there was a very stark clash/mixture of the modern and traditional. So walking around the city, your views can be dominated by super slick glass skyscrapers that dominate the sky, huge malls with multi-story high-fashion stores, enormous boulevards and giant man-made parks. Then you can turn a corner and find yourself in the cramped, grimy lanes, full of 1 room houses, people cooking and brushing their teeth in street, and drying their underwear in public (even in midwinter). I actually love the atmosphere that these less affluent parts generate, and if i'm bored I love to just wander around and take photos of people going about their daily business (hence some of my later paintings).

At the time, I just wanted to quickly capture the energetic, filthy claustrophobia of one of the alleyways I had walked down so I knocked this picture up pretty quickly, using only a limited colour pallet. I wanted to get some of the contrasting light and dark, as well as some of the brick texture. At this point, I couldn't read any Chinese characters at all (i think it was in the first week or so)  therefore the writing on the walls I just captured as illegible squiggles.

I'd be interested to get feedback on this from people. It's not a style I normally go for but some people I've shown this to do seem to like it. I have a nagging feeling it's a little generic, though every now and then I will do something like this. It only took around 4 hours to do.



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