Gala mascot makes monkey's uncle of designers

By Lin Qi ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-01-23 08:06:32

 Gala mascot makes monkey's uncle of designers

The original design of the gala mascot by Han Meilin. [Photo/Official Sina Weibo Account of the CCTV Spring Festival Gala]

Even top designers cannot satisfy all the people all the time. But not so great ones can aggravate most of the people most of the time.

Two weeks before its broadcast, the annual Chinese Spring Festival Gala has created quite a stir online.

The design crew released on its Weibo account a mascot of 3-D design for the upcoming show celebrating the lunar Year of the Monkey.

It has become the target of intense criticism and even ridicule among netizens, some of whom say it is the ugliest monkey they've ever seen. These who were born in the Year of the Monkey particularly seem to resent what they call the poorly designed monkey, saying it really ruins their mood as they prepare to welcome the ben ming nian, the zodiac year of their birth.

The gala, presented by China Central Television since 1983, will be aired on Feb 7, the eve of Spring Festival.

The mascot, named Kangkang, which means "being healthy" in Chinese, was based on a colored ink prototype painted by the established artist Han Meilin.

The 80-year-old Beijing artist is famed for painting ink animal images in which he blends folk culture designs and patterns of antiquities of and before the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). He was the leading designer of the Beijing Olympic Games mascots in 2008.

The gala crew also released Han's original design, a smiling monkey with only its round, hairy head in view, with a face in yellow, emerald green and rose.

Han has said on both his Sina Weibo account and blog that he had never seen the 3-D model before its introduction to the public.

Han says he received a commission from CCTV in November and produced about 30 versions of the monkey.

He said he was inspired by the Monkey King of Chinese legend to create the image. He painted its face in colors favored by Chinese cultural tradition.

Online comments criticize the 3-D image for being ugly and in bad taste, saying the body that was added to the original ruined Han's original idea. Some posted alternate mascots, such as characters from animated films like Monkey King: Hero is Back.

Other voices disagree with Han's design, particularly the puffy areas below each of the monkey's ears which, Han says, is how a monkey's cheeks swell up when chewing.

Ge Yi, a Shanghai mother who worked at art museums, says Han's approach may be in line with many people's taste in art but, "aesthetically, it's not brilliant".

"The cheeks look rather odd and uncomfortable. The 3-D modeling makes it look as if it were something produced a decade ago," she adds.

Feng Guoliang, a painter in Beijing, says Han is simply repeating what he has painted before, and the design lacks "explosiveness and a broad, contemporary vision".

"There are so many talented artists across the nation. If the gala had collected designs from the public and put them up for a vote, people might not be complaining today," he said.

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