"Peking Opera is one of China’s most revered traditional music and theatre art forms. Hailed by the Chinese Government as a ‘national treasure’ and the ‘pride of the Chinese people’, Peking opera also faces the challenges that are typical to many global art forms today: that of staying ahead of the times and allowing modernization, and at the same time of preserving its tradition. With he advent of new and mostly westernized pop culture into modern‐day China, Peking Opera is endangered to be sublimated onto the outskirts of the Chinese entertainment industry.
Once the principal and, at times, only available entertainment in Old Beijing, Peking Opera was a favourite entertainment of China’s Emperors and their concubines in the Forbidden City, as well as of the hoi polloi of Beijing who used to crowd the old city’s numerous tea houses and small local theatres, following their favourite actors to every performance on offer.
Today the young audiences in China might find this beautiful and mysterious art form to be challenging. That is why the input from contemporary Western artistsic tradition will be essential in paving the way for modernization of the Opera as well as ensure the growing popularity with both younger and older generations. This process of modernization will also allow a ‘way into’ the art of Peking Opera for the new, international audiences.
The particularly appealing and unique visual and artistic elements in Peking Opera that international public finds magnetically poetic and mysterious are the ‘archaic’ costumes made of elaborate hand‐embroidered silk, its historical and notoriously long narratives, the stylized gestures, and the make‐up that famously takes up to two hours to apply and requires at least two specially‐trained assistants to administer. Most recognisable is the typically high‐pitched singing, that many westerners might find difficult to comprehend without a new ‘facelift’ given by the [possibility to be presented as an element in a contemporary visual art project." varvarashavrova.com/portfolio/opera/
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Varvara Shavrova was born in Moscow and studied fine art at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute. After 15 years in London, she moved to Beijing, where she lived and worked for over five years. Now based in Dublin, Shavrova
has shown in numerous public institutions and has curated significant exhibitions in Russia, China, Ireland and the UK. Her work is in many importantpublic and private collections worldwide. The Opera project has
been shown in Venice Biennale of Architecture 2014, at the First Chongqing Biennale of Video and Photography in Chongqing, China in 2015, at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art in London in 2013, at Gallery of Photography Ireland in 2012, and at Espacio Cultural El Tanque in Tenerife, Spain, in 2011.
Shavrova is currently studying for a postgraduate degree at Goldsmiths College, University on London.