French artist Hassan's art exploring life in Kunming

French artist Hassan Musa stands with his artwork in Salinger Café in Kunming in November, 2014. [Photo/Chen Yingying]

A piece of artwork, themed on a dancing lady, was created in Arabian calligraphy by Hassan Musa. [Provided to InKunming

[InKunming--Interviews & Polls]  One day in October, 2013, Hassan Musa and his wife Patricia, who had both lived in Kunming for over 3 months, decided to go for a stroll in the city. As an artist, Hassan had paid most of his attention to art creation at home.

Even though they had lived in Kunming for a long time, they were not very familiar with the city. To Hassan and Patricia, who are scholars and experts in art, they always like to take time in appreciating artworks which are shown in museums or galleries.

"We have travelled a lot in many countries both in Europe and in America," Patricia said, "For the countries we had gone to, museums and galleries are the most favorable places we would like to travel in." Hassan and Patria think places like museums or galleries in a country can bring joys and pleasures to them most.

Museums or galleries in Kunming are also interesting places to Hassan and Patria. Hence, the two of them opened a tour guide book and managed to find a gallery that could meet their tastes in the city.

Accidentally, name of Yunnan Provincial Museum popped out in their eyes on the book. The word "Museum" was so attractive to them that they made a decision to visit the museum. They called a taxi to take them to the museum on that day.

When they got off the taxi, a long red banner attracted their eyes. Patricia guessed that words written on the banner may be related to an exhibition which was being shown in a hall of the museum. However, only Chinese characters were printed on the banner. Both Hassan and Patricia could not read the Chinese characters.

Therefore, Hassan and Patricia walked by a gate of the provincial museum and tried to look for a staffer to help them. A few minutes later, a passer-by that looked like a staffer of the museum walked towards Hassan and Patricia. Patricia went up to enquire what was being exhibited in the museum.

To Hassan and Patricia's surprise, the person who seemed to be a staffer of the museum told no useful information to them. His answer was only a sentence "I don't know", which let Hassan and Patricia felt a little depressed. Even though there was a small store standing near the museum, Hassan and Patricia still could not find out any helpful clue from the store. "Exhibition brochure, catalogue, price list, souvenir about the exhibition……things like this, we could not find out. This issue looks very strange." Patricia said.

Last year, Hassan and Patricia's Chinese language proficiency was not great so that they cannot handle daily affairs very easily in Kunming. To watch an art exhibition, or to know and understand the city's culture better is always a hope hidden in Hassan and Patricia's hearts. They also attempted other ways to find information about art exhibitions shown in Kunming. They tried to search on the internet, but there was no enough information for them, either.

Hassan and his wife Patricia enjoy their happy time in a small restaurant in Kunming. [Provided to InKunming]

Picture shows a piece of artwork Yuantong Temple in Kunming created by Hassan. [Provided to InKunming]

Indeed, the reason why Hassan and Patricia came to Kunming and lived in the city is to accompany their beloved son Mimane, who had settled down in the city for over five years and married with a local Chinese woman. Mimane, as a foreigner who lived in Kunming for such a long time and also has hobbies in art and culture, felt very sympathetic towards his parents. For his parents' experience to find a suitable art exhibition to watch and appreciate in Kunming seemed very hard.

Mimane, when he was at a young age, always accompanied his parents Hassan and Patricia to watch various art exhibitions in Europe and America. He knows how a feeling becomes bad when one could not find an art exhibition to watch in the city. Especially for he and his parents, they are all from France. France is a developed country in the world that highly values enjoyment art and culture affect people.

Mimane said: "Kunming, the city, sometimes, seems like a vacant shell." He meant that Kunming in some extent lacks atmosphere and environment that people would rush to appreciate art exhibitions or create artworks energetically.

But Mimane's Dad, Hassan, a well-known artist in Europe, who excels in creating artworks in Arabian calligraphy, assembled fabrics, watercolor painting, oil painting, carving, etc., immersed himself in art and culture almost every day, and had got remarkable achievements in France.

Take for an example, Hassan's artworks had been exhibited in many world famous cities, including Paris, New York, Venice, Vienna, Brussels, and so on. Hassan also held personal exhibitions for himself in the past, owning very rich experiences in organizing exhibitions as an art creator.

In November, 2014, Hassan and Patricia flied to Kunming from France once again after their last six-month stay in the city in 2013. This time, Hassan and Patricia not only had a hope to meet their son, but also carried some pieces of Hassan's artworks to Kunming with their flight.

On November 23, 2014, a sharing session about Arabian calligraphy art was convened in Salinger Café in Kunming. Pieces of Hassan's artworks were shown in the café on that day. A lot of local Chinese people, such as students, artists, and curators, joined in the session. All of them wished to appreciate Hassan's artworks displayed in the café and listened to a worthy speech that Hassan gave there.

After Hassan gave an introduction to his artworks and shared his own experiences with audience in the café, some local Chinese people stood out to ask Hassan questions. Some asked why Hassan chose to bring his artworks to Kunming and exhibited them in the city; some asked what meanings are in his Arabian artworks; and two or three locals just directly invited Hassan to exhibit his artworks in their art centers.

Only on the night of November 23, Hassan got more new opportunities to exhibit his artworks in the city, which signified that his sharing session with local people was successful. Local Chinese people expressed their strong interests in Hassan's artworks and his rich experiences in art.

From November 23 to 30, Chinese and foreign people came for appreciating Hassan's artworks in the Salinger café one after another. On December 2, Hassan was invited to give a speech in Yunnan Arts University. Students who are majored in Art Design in that university warmly welcomed Hassan's sharing in art.

To Hassan, he wrote and published about forty books in different aspects of art with his wife Patricia in France. It proves that he has a bunch of profound ideas in art and art creation. His actions in sharing art experiences with local people, taking unique artworks to the city and holding an exhibition, as well as paint local sceneries of Kunming and Yunnan, actually blow a new wind that is mixed with an air of European and French style to the city.

Kunming also welcomes new fresh air. For instance, local Chinese people accepts Hassan and Patricia to learn Chinese traditional Tai Chi for free in Green Lake Park. Tai Chi is a kind of shadow boxing that is very popular in the country. Nowadays, to practice Tai Chi, becomes one of the most enjoyable things for Hassan and Patricia.

In every morning when they stay in Kunming, Hassan and Patricia get up very early. Even though they are in their vacation now, they do not get up too late. Since they cannot help expecting to quickly join in that group which practice Tai Chi every day. Besides art and art creation, Hassan and Patricia are taking efforts to seek a way they like to stay in Kunming.

Click here to view Chinese report.

(Editors: Cathy Chen, Tracy)

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