Artists from Xinjiang feature a strong sense of color, rarely seen in art works rooted from other parts of China, said Musa Ma, Curator of the Gaotai Gallery. Their rich and often flamboyant palettes possibly result from a combination of the region's long hours of sunshine and other natural resources, according to him.
Musa Ma was born in Tacheng, a small town in the northern part of Xinjiang. He had studied and worked overseas so he shares the artistic vision of "Urumklyn" to depict the parallels between Urumqi and Brooklyn, Xinjiang and New York.
Even Musa Ma himself, who is half Kazakh, half Hui, feels overwhelmed by the geographic and cultural differences he uncovers between the northern and southern parts of Xinjiang. In the south, Uygur is the chief ethnicity. Whereas up north, various ethnic groups, including Kazakh, Han, Uygur, Tatar, Kirgiz, all live together and share each other's traditions and practices.
"My first time to Kashgar in the south really restructured my perception of Xinjiang," Musa Ma told Beijing Review. The name of his contemporary gallery "Gaotai" actually finds its inspiration in the Gaotai Residence, a tangible heritage site in Kashgar. For him, the mixing and matching of traditional and modern characteristics is not a matter of contradiction due to the richness entrenched in his own DNA.
His hometown of Tacheng in the north embraces an open-minded lifestyle. Families are often mixed, covering a variety of ethnicities. Therefore, they celebrate a lot of traditional festivals, from Eid to the Spring Festival.
"Today, what I'm doing is also an attempt to bring together people from different backgrounds. Art definitely can introduce Xinjiang to the public from a different perspective, Musa Ma elaborated.
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