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Green onions spark art fervor in locked-down Shanghai

10 May, 2022   /   Shanghai, China

Shanghai's strict lockdown is understandably making residents uncomfortable and angry, but a local artist has found a way to feed his creative urges.

Taking a leaf from comedian Charlie Chaplin, who once said, "To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it," the painter-cum-art critic Lin Mingjie held a "green-onion" themed exhibition, encouraging people confined at home to seek joy in the littlest things.

On his WeChat, he said, "Humor has its power in the face of difficulties."

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One of Lin Mingjie's creations "Lady with green onion headdress"

Like thyme and basil in the West, green onions are an essential herb in Chinese cuisine. People usually receive it as a complimentary gift from the greengrocer, but it has become something hard to get amid lockdown as it is rarely included in group buying, the current main method of shopping and delivery.

So many people are treating green onions as a treasured possession and are learning to grow them. The widespread frenzy over green onions inspired Lin to hold an online exhibition. To his surprise, many people answered his call shortly after he posted the requirements.

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"Take it easy" recreated by Fang Qing Cong

Green onions appear as accessories and furnishings in their works, which are mostly paintings and photographs, or as tributes to masterpieces such as Salvador Dal's mustache, Andy Warhol's pop art, and flowers on Mona Lisa's hands.

"Thanks for attending this event ... I hope at least it can bring you a bit of joy," he said.

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"Mona Lisa's green onions" by Chen Shanglong

The response from the locals was beyond his expectations.

"These works have profound significance in Shanghai's history. Green onion is kind of an echo from the public, reverberating with kindness, empathy, strength, and optimism," he said.

From the flourishing green onions, he saw the city's resilience. "'I believe people's craze over green onions won't last long. The pandemic will surely end that phase," Li said.

Below are some of the exhibited works. For more, go to Lin's WeChat account (artlinjuli).

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"POP green onions" by Chen Shanglong

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Artwork "Dance of lines" by Shi Mo

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"Six men" by He Xi

Source: SHINE