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New US consulate in Guangzhou is given a sculpture, nobody sure what it is

Posted: 03/26/2013 3:22 pm

The United States consulate in Guangzhou is one of the busiest in China. It’s responsible for handling visa enquiries for people all over the southern part of the country, stretching down to Hainan Island.

In short, the needs of the consulate have outgrown its current digs, so it will soon move into a brand new facility in Zhujiang New Town. The consulate is expected to have a grand opening ceremony later this year.

A US artist named Joel Shapiro has created a sculpture that has been donated to the consulate to mark the occasion.  Shapiro, who’s 71 years old, is apparently well-known in the world of abstract art, according to the Wall Street Journal. And as with the genre, much is left up to individual interpretation.

Enter, this:

That blue sculpture to the left is the one designed by Shapiro. What is it, exactly? Some say it looks like a flying man, others wonder if it’s a bird, we think it kind of looks like a guy about to stand up from a chair?!

Shapiro says people are welcome to interpret the design “any way they’d like to, as long as it stimulates the imagination.”

In China last week, Mr. Shapiro oversaw installation of the 22-foot-tall outdoor, bright-blue metal work. The bright-blue Guangzhou work is made of six parts bolted together. Why blue? “I like blue,” Mr. Shapiro said, wearing a blue button-down shirt. But he also explained that the hue “gives the piece a solidity, and it doesn’t reflect light. It amplifies the mass of the piece.” He chose a durable matte paint used by the U.S. military for covert operations.

The sculpture, the result of a seven-year process, was made in a foundry north of New York City. Mr. Shapiro donated the piece to the consulate at the behest of the nonprofit Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, which paid for the fabrication of the sculpture and has given work by over 200 artists to American outposts in more than 140 countries. In 1999, FAPE arranged for the artist to donate a 40-foot-high bronze sculpture for the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

Guangzhou is fast becoming a bit of a hotbed for architecture. The new blue consulate sculpture sits beside the Guangzhou Opera House, which has also received international acclaim.

Any guesses on what the blue sculpture is supposed to be?

Let us know what you think in the comments.


  • ivancurtis

    Looks like someone booting in a game winner

  • Ray

    Interesting, but even better to know there will be a new consulate for us ‘mericans. I hope that will mean more appointment times and less waiting. My passport is getting awfully filled up, I’ll have to check out this place soon…

  • Eric Boyd

    Reminds me of paintings by PAWEL PRZEWLOCKI.

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