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The Shanghai Riddle 06.08.08

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Dutch designer Maarten Baas' first exhibition in China will open next Friday at the Contrasts Gallery in Shanghai. Called, appropriately enough, the Shanghai Riddle, the show is the culmination of a year's work for Baas.

Among the previously unseen works is an installation called Transformation, in which traditional Chinese hand-crafted elm and camphor-wood furniture seems to melt into a pool of mahogany. Baas explains: "Wood is not possible to melt, but yet it seems to melt. What is that? You actually don't know what is happening but you just accept that it is happening." Drawing his inspiration from the city of Shanghai, Baas says: "They can do things you just couldn't find in Holland. There are so many contrasts over there. You don't know if something is new or old or fake or real or traditional or modern. This makes a kind of mixture which you can't understand, you just accept it."

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Indeed Bass has characterised Shanghai as "a city full of contradictions: old/new, high-tech/low-tech, technical/revolution, fake/real, cheap/expensive, original/copy". Like his earlier Plastic Chair in Wood (icon 059), the Transformation piece represents a merging of Western and Eastern cultures.
Shanghai Riddle is at the Contrasts Gallery, Shanghai, 15 August – 4 September.
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Words

Adrian McBreen

quotes story

Wood is not possible to melt, but yet it seems to melt. What is that? You actually don't know what is happening but you just accept that it is happening

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