Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fang Tang's Caricature World at the Zhongshan Cartoon Museum

The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (中山漫画馆)
The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (中山漫画馆)

The Zhongshan Cartoon Museum (website in Chinese) opened just over two years ago at scenic Yixian Lake Park in Zhongshan, Guangdong. The Chinese characters "漫画" (mànhuà) in the museum's name are translated into English as "cartoon". But in a different context on a sign introducing a collection of pieces by Fang Tang (方唐), the characters are translated as "caricature", which captures the spirit of his work displayed there.

Fang Tang, formerly known as Chen Shubin, was born in Zhongshan in 1938 and has achieved national recognition (source in Chinese). According to the Zhongshan Daily Overseas Edition, Fang donated a number of his pieces to the museum because he felt it was a better option than them becoming "rubbish" after he dies. As a whole, I considered Fang's works to be the most striking examples in the museum, in large part due to the topics they covered.

Below are photographs of six examples of his work along with their titles. I would typically take a pass on translating artwork titles, especially without consulting the artist. However, for the sake of providing some context, I gave it a shot, erring on the simplistic side. Titles in the original Chinese are included as well, and dates are listed when possible.

With the exception of "Henpecked Disease", I would not have been surprised to see the below examples as editorial cartoons in an American publication, although a slightly different meaning could have been intended or interpreted in some cases. The pieces provide a taste not only of what Fang wanted to creatively express but also of what he has been allowed to express in China.

Sign introducing the collection of pieces by Fang Tang
Sign introducing the collection

Security (安全) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting the Statue of Liberty waving a metal detector over people
Security — 安全 (2003)

Give Some Oil (给点油吧) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting apparent religious/spiritual figures and the Statue of Liberty al in line to receive oil
Give a Bit of Oil — 给点油吧 (1981)

Recollecting (回想) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting men looking at a caged bird in a deforested area left only with tree stumps
Recollecting — 回想 (1986)

Henpecked Disease (惧内症) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting crowd of men running away after an angry-looking woman is revealed on a pedestal
Henpecked Disease — 惧内症 (1985)

Worship (崇拜) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting a man walking by a pointing man standing atop a pyramid of people bowing
Worship — 崇拜

Conviction (信仰) by Fang Tang (方唐) depicting a man impaled by a arrow sign and holding an arrow point in the other direction while also holding a book
Conviction — 信仰

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