Yellow duck artist makes giant pink fish for ancient Chinese town

Yellow duck artist makes giant pink fish for ancient Chinese town
A visitor takes pictures in front of the pink Floating Fish in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, on Sunday.
PHOTO: China Daily

After his giant Yellow Duck debuted in Hong Kong three years ago, Florentijn Hofman has made a giant pink Floating Fish for Wuzhen, an ancient water town in Zhejiang province.

It is the first time the Dutch artist has made an animal-related work on the Chinese mainland.

The 15-meter-long, 7-meter-high fish - made from thousands of swimming kickboards for children - floats on a pond at a theatre in Wuzhen.

It was shown to the public on Sunday as part of the Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition.

"I got inspiration from Wuzhen and from a Chinese folk story that a fish jumping the 'dragon gate' brings luck and wealth for people," Hofman said.

Six months ago, he was invited by the Culture Wuzhen Company to create a work for the art show, which features works by influential artists.

Hofman then visited Wuzhen, one of the country's most popular tourist towns, where he saw windows of wooden houses with fish sculptures and also carp swimming in rivers, from where he says his inspiration came from.

The theatre looks like a sea world and the dolphin-shaped water area fits well with the fish installation, he said.

He chose pink for his fish so that it would stand out from its surroundings.

"It looks like a killer whale, but it's not really. ... It has connections to Wuzhen and the Chinese folk story - that's why its scales look like the scales of a dragon," he said.

Hofman drew the image for Floating Fish, which was completed by Chinese workers using domestically produced materials. All communication for the project was carried out through e-mails, videos, photos and instant messaging.

In China, Hofman has been called the "father of the giant Yellow Duck" because of the duck's popularity among Chinese people.

However, he says his four children's toys inspired him to do animal-related installations. Besides rabbits, bears, the Yellow Duck and now the fish, Hofman said more animals will be added to his works.

He said he hopes visitors can touch the pink fish - gently, of course - adding that he doesn't like the way in which many public works are treated in China, with visitors not allowed to touch them.

"It's just like your neighbour's car. Why not touch it, as long as you treat it gently," he said.

Chen Xianghong, president of the Culture Wuzhen Company, said he will buy Floating Fish for Wuzhen after the show ends in June.

But some residents are not so impressed. "I don't like the pink fish. It's not a good-looking one. Holman's Yellow Duck is cute, but the fish doesn't fit with the environment of our water town," resident Ye Jun said.

The houses in Wuzhen have white walls and gray tiles.

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