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Pandemic lockdowns inspire Chinese artists

Shanghai's harsh COVID-19 restrictions recorded for posterity

Chinese artist Sun Xun in the Shanghai hotel room that he transformed into a studio during what he called his "forced art residency." (Courtesy of Sun Xun)

SHANGHAI -- When the daring painter and animator Sun Xun arrived in Shanghai from Beijing to set up an exhibition in April he was told that a newly declared lockdown had canceled the show, and that he could expect to remain quarantined for at least five days. More than two months later, he and an assistant were still looking through their hotel window at a Shanghai spring they were barred from entering.

"You could call this my forced art residency," Sun quips in an interview with Nikkei Asia. Armed with little more than a calligraphy brush and a pot of black ink, he recreated a blossoming world and the roiling torrents of nature on every wall, window, counter, mirror and sheet in his cramped quarters, not forgetting the sink and toilet. Using folded paper, cardboard and beer bottles he created symbolic images of rebirth -- poignant installations serving as reminders of life beyond the window.

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