Chinese artist promotes environmental restoration through art

Global Business

For four decades, Artist Zhu Renmin has made waves in China by using art to restore landscapes that have been destroyed by man.

Most people in the West still know little about his work.

Six museums in China and one in Verona, Italy — now add to that list, Chinese Artist Zhu Renmin’s first in America, just opened in Silicon Valley.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

Visitors can learn how Zhu injured himself so badly working on a performance art painting. Doctors said he’d never walk again. He spent years rehabiliting and building his own island where he created these 500 granite statues.

In this project, the local government couldn’t find anyone to landscape this narrow space by a cliff.

“Then he draws a Chinese painting, for his dreaming or plan for the project. Then, he shows this to government. Do you want this one? Government said Oh, this is great,” said Zion Shen, Founder of Arteco. “Every year, 70 million visitors. Now it’s worth like 20 billion RMB right now.”

Zion Shen founded Arteco, the company which is helping introduce Zhu Renmin’s work to a global audience.

Shen says in China, Zhu has built 24 projects totaling nearly $15 billion.

“Art is so broad, profound, not just for appreciation for auction but for to change the world, but to repair the damaged ecology, to save this planet,” said Shen.

Stanford University Asian Art professor Richard Vinograd is impressed by Zhu’s work that turned a neglected and polluted section of Hangzhou’s grand canal into a food street.

“It’s also a project that involves, incorporates Zhu’s artistic practice, both long and hand-scrolled painting that shows the scenery along the grand canal and kind of an architectural drawing in a more casual style that really lays out the design for a circular architectural arrangement of restaurants and bridges, walkways,” said Vinograd.

Vinograd believes Zhu’s ideas could potentially work in the U.S. too.

“I think what’s special about Zhu Renmin’s work is that he really wants it to be more than just a conceptual piece or a visual spectacle but something that has a real impact on the environment,” said Vinograd. “I think his vision is so appealing and this combination of artistry, architectural design, land art and ecological awarenesss and consciousness that it should have a place here in the U.S.”

In fact, the Arteco team is already looking for areas to create their first US and California project. One Silicon Valley neighborhood they are looking at contains damaged wetlands they could potentially repair. And it has good space to incorporate Zhu Renmin’s artistic designs — which in this case would be a Asian style food street with the latest technology on display.

Arteco – which stands for Art using Technology to save Ecology – ultimately wants to use technology to scale Zhu Remin’s vision.

“I try to use artificial intelligence, the latest technology to simulate professor Zhu’s idea, and how he thinks when he looks at a damaged place,” said Shen. “Then the rest by professor Zhu, and we will also ask local artists to make the local element, local culture, integrate those cultures into the final design.”

While that path may be filled with hurdles, Zhu’s life work has always been about imagining and building what most thought was never possible.