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Rainer Maria Latzke
Birth of the Neo-Renaissance
Talking to renaissance painter Rainer Maria Latzke about his life is like reading a Hollywood movie script. The now famous artist who is the founder for the Institute of Frescography in Logan, Utah and an honorary professor at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art at Fudan University broke free from the small town in Germany where he grew up and has travelled the world, lived in Chateaus, dined with dignitaries and partied with rock stars.
Rainer Maria Latzke with his wife Doris
There is nothing ordinary about Latzke, speaking to him I get a sense that he is far from settling, let alone taking a rest. The conversation pinballed from childhood stories to museum projects in Pudong. I somehow felt that only half of his attention was dedicated to the interview and can only guess that the other half was far away, perhaps on a distant planet, which would be the new canvas for his largest project yet.
But with his steel determination, a talent in painting and an equally skilful talent at attracting the curiosity and attention of everyone that crosses his path; Latzke revived the art of mural painting and was crowned as one of the cultural trendsetters of the 90s by Forbes magazine, calling his fusion of classic painting with modern ideas the ‘Neo-Renaissance’.
Today Latzke lives in Shanghai with his wife Doris, where he teaches mural art at Fudan University.
In 2010 Prof. Rainer Maria Latzke collaborated with the DeTao Masters Academy (DTMA) and opened his Studio for Mural Painting on the campus of the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts (SIVA) of Fudan University. The goal of the DTMA is to enter partnerships with leaders of their fields to collaborate on local projects and more importantly, for these masters to pass on their knowledge to young Chinese students with the aim of shifting Chinas reputation of a copying nation to an innovating nation.
Latzke was born in a tiny town called Frohngau in Germany in 1950. His hometown, too small to find on a map, and his siblings, too many to know all their names, were just some of the reasons this young man with delusions of grandeur set out to Italy to study the arts of the Renaissance masters. He followed an unconventional passion for an artist at the time, his professors at university being avante-garde-everything-is-art-but-art prophets.
PROF. HAIM DOTAN
Nature Was here Before us It will be here Long After we are gone We do not imitate nature But Learn from its logic Its wisdom
Beauty in nature
I knew Prof. Haim Dotan as the architect of the Isreal Pavillion. It was one of my favorites because It didn’t remind me of the inside of a space ship like many of the others, but instead seemed organic; a giant snail house or some kind of a remain of a long gone civilization. But only when I met with him for the interview I really understood his relationship with nature. He is not trying to brand himself as a green architect to benefit from this popular trend, there is something much more genuine about him. When he pulled out his poems and started reading them to me, my first confused reaction was followed by an understanding of this long haired and eccentric professor. He is not an architect, but instead has discovered that architecture is the most powerful tool he could possibly use to pursue his aim of making the world a more beautiful place on the largest possible scale.
Images courtesy of Haim Dotan Architects
Exhibitions in April
Until April 29th @ Art+ Shanghai Gallery 22 Fumin Lu, near Yan’an Lu / artplusshanghai.com
When did you first visit China? The relation between me and China started 100 years ago. My grandparents escaped to China as refugee and lived in Hong Kou, Shanghai, between 1915 to 1920 where my mother was born 1919. I came to China in 1984 as a traveler for 3 months, then in 2006 and 2009 again. Due to the memory from my grandparents and mother, my understanding of Chinese ancient philosophy, and my experiences of traveling in the mountains and rivers of China, I have acquired great knowledge of ancient Chinese wisdom. Your buildings often look organic as though they are a part of nature. Do you follow a certain set of rules or a design philosophy? I get my inspiration from nature. I never copy nature. It cannot be done. I observe nature and learn from its great wisdom. If you had to work in China full time, would your family come and live here with you? My entire family visited Shanghai a few years ago. They think it is a wonderful city. Because my eldest daughter is doing her compulsory military service and my youngest daughter is in her last years of high school, they couldn’t move to China at the moment, but they are looking forward to doing so in a few years. How does your work schedule affect your family life? Because I spend half my time away from the family, SMS-ing and Skypeing are very important. And we make an effort to make the time we are together special -- I enjoy a week-long “family beach vacation” in Tel Aviv every month and a “honeymoon” in Shanghai with my wife almost as often. What is your biggest aim in china? My Philosophy: “I believe” It is my continuous goal to develop the highest technology at the lowest construction cost. To create emotional and functional architecture, building advanced design and technology in peripheral and forgotten cities where technology is low, skilled construction workers unavailable. It is my dream to transform these seemingly lost cities into places of joy, hope and pride, with new construction education and culture for the future of our children. This is my dream in China. What is the most memorable and most shocking incident you’ve experienced in China? . I am not only the designer and architect of Israel Pavilion in World EXPO 2010 Shanghai, but also the builder and general contractor of the pavilion, in charge of construction, maintenance of the pavilion for six months, and demolition the structure upon completion of EXPO 2010. Therefore, I had to “destroy” my own creation, witnessing a painful process of destruction, feeling like a father who is killing his own son with his hands. I do not know many architects who demolished their own buildings after building them in sweat and tears; however, one is looking into the future with great memories and optimism. After death there is always new life.
Ye Hongxingis best known for her self-portraits, vague features made up of shades of grey, her eyes closed, covered in vibrant patterns reminiscant of traditional Chinese porcelain decoration. In her paintings Ye continues to comment on Chinas’s swift change of its’ social system and inbalance of wealth.
April 7th - 22nd @ Shanghai Grand Theatre Gallery shgtheatre.com
You can find Carlos Morell and his colleague Wei Yijia painting away at their canvases day and night. They seem to take turns in painting over one another’s paintings, creating a multi layered image woven together by organic shapes and inhabited by creatures you would only expect to find in your dreams; strange humanoid silhouettes, or unproportionally large birds.
HOKKAIDO TO HUANGSHAN
Until April 29th @ M97 Gallery 2/F, 97 Moganshan Lu / m97gallery.com
Huangshan Mountain and Hokkaido’s pristine natural world have been a source of inspiration for painters and poets throughout history, but rarely has a photographer been able to capture these landscapes as Kenna has in over 30 silver gelatin photographs.
GET AWAY M50 莫干山路
I couldn’t believe that even in shanghai, where every-day life is a constant fight against an unbeatable battle with claustrophobia, there are actually people who dislike or criticize Moganshan Lu’s M50. Even though personally I quite liked what I saw in some of the galleries (and disliked in some others) this place is not just about art. It is also about atmosphere.
Accessed through a narrow graffiti-decorated street and made up of a small jungle of recycled warehouses and stairs, you are suddenly protected from the unforgiving skyscraper, that normally cause neck cramps, as once again you couldn’t resist trying to peek to the top. The relaxing, clean and meticulously designed environment instantly allows you to forget your every-day stress and soak up the artistic surrounding. Wandering through the labyrinth of galleries, slightly overwhelmed by trying to figure out what is art, and what isn’t and whether you like it or not, take a break at one of many coffee shops to have a drink or some lunch.
If you are an art book nerd, like me, then you’ll want to stop at Timezone 8 Editions, a well stocked art book store with lots of Chinese and even some English publications. Most galleries close either on Sunday or Monday so it’s best to visit on other days of the week. Some of the more well known galleries are; ShanghART Gallery, Art Scene Warehouse, Shine Art Space and m97 Gallery.
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