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Shanghai exhibition pays tribute to legendary comic artist

By Lin Qi | | Updated: 2021-01-14 10:48
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A page from Sanmao Joins the Army on show. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The great comic artist Zhang Leping is best known by the Chinese for his works centering around Sanmao, an orphaned teenage boy who was playful, kind, righteous and patriotic. The character was first published in Shanghai in 1935. Sanmao Joins the Army and Wanderings of Sanmao are two most popular comic books from the series.

Zhang donated manuscripts of Sanmao Joins the Army to the China Art Museum, Shanghai. The whole collection is now for the public viewing for the first time, along with other Sanmao works, at Glance Back, an exhibition to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Zhang's birth.

The exhibition at the China Art Museum until Feb 28 traces Zhang's career as one of the pioneers of China's comic art beginning in the early 20th century. Apart from the Sanmao comics, it also shows Zhang's versatility in graphic art, displaying his sketches, illustrations, collages, advertisement designs, fashion designs, paper-cuts and clay sculptures.

Living and working in Shanghai for years, Zhang's works show an influence of international art which hallmarked the metropolitan's cultural atmosphere in the first half of the 20th century. Meanwhile, Zhang infused elements of traditional Chinese arts and crafts, to become a key figure in ushering Chinese art into a modern era.

The exhibition also reflects Zhang's love of children. His many works created after the founding of New China in 1949 depict the happiness of young children engaging a variety of entertainment activities, conveying his concerns with the future of the country.

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