Chinese president Xi Jinping is fed up with his country’s fascination with what he calls “weird architecture,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Speaking at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Xi’s two-hour speech took shot at Chinese architects and artists who have designed avant-garde style buildings.
Instead, he said that art should “be like sunshine from the blue sky and the breeze in spring that will inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste, and clean up undesirable work styles.”
In other words, the speech was a call for more traditional Chinese art that is patriotic, socialist, and nationalistic at its core.
Xi believes that the art and architecture in China should appeal to the average Chinese citizen, who should also be the main subject of all artwork. His sentiment hearkens back to late Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s idea that the working class in China should not only be the major audience for all art, but that it should be a reflection of their everyday lives, according to Xinhua.
Xi’s speech comes at a time when China is being noticed and appreciated for its architecture. In 2012, Wang Shu, an Hangzhou architect, became the first man who was born and working in China to win the Pritzker Prize, the architect’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Of course, not all of China’s bizarre buildings are a hit. Rem Koolhaas’ CCTV headquarter building was nicknamed “big pants” for its bizarre shape, a building in the Jiangsu province was mocked for looking like a clay teapot in the Jiangsu province, and there was also a bizarre 33-story building in Guanzhou that looked like a giant coin.
Xi also touched on the fact that China is known for copying buildings from the rest of the world, saying that problems like plagiarism and unoriginality were not helping the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
The speech addressed the rampant corruption in Chinese architecture that Xi is trying to curb as well. The Chinese president said that artists should not be “slaves” to the market and the work itself should not have “the stench of money.”
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