Talking Arts: Guangzhou Through a Foreigner's Eyes

By That's, May 27, 2024

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On May 18, the lobby of the Changlong Wanbo China Resources Land Center Exhibition Hall was full of beautiful, well-dressed people. 

There are a few visual markers for identifying 'art people,' and this crowd went down the list; from thick rimmed glasses to linen sport coats, there wasn't a buttoned top button in the room. 

Why, then, was this gathering of aristocrats taking place in a cleverly disguised apartment sales showroom? 

At this point, we must give Wanbo their flowers because its marketing genius. 

The sales center doubles as an art gallery  elegant reddish brown stone and Dark Knight batcave ceilings lend themselves perfectly to showcasing art and hosting those who seek it. 

Samuel Rodríguez, a Barcelona native who has made Guangzhou his home for the past two years, was unveiling his highly anticipated photography exhibition, Guangzhou Through a Foreigner's Eyes.

Samuel-Pose.jpgSamuel Rodríguez unveiling his highly anticipated photography exhibition. Image courtesy of Changlong Wanbo China Resources Land Center 

Rodríguez serves at the Tourism Office of the General Consulate of Spain, where his primary role involves promoting Spanish culture and assisting Chinese tourists in exploring Spain through various on-site and marketing initiatives. 

Although he previously spent a year in Hangzhou, he has become enthralled with Guangzhou, and turned down consular postings in Europe and North America in 2022, opting to stay in the city of flowers.

Samuel-Explaining.jpgSamuel Rodríguez unveiling his highly anticipated photography exhibition. Image courtesy of Changlong Wanbo China Resources Land Center 

The photography project, which began shortly after Rodríguez's arrival in Guangzhou, was driven by his desire to immerse himself in the city and its culture. 

By wandering through its streets and alleys, Rodríguez has captured the authentic spirit of Guangzhou, from bustling market scenes to tranquil moments in hidden gardens. 

For those who've ventured beyond the gentrified and manicured gardens of Zhujiang New Town, Guangzhou is a labyrinth of ancient winding laneways through some of China’s most densely populated neighborhoods. 

One can wander and peer into the dioramas, which encompass an entire person’s existence through the open wall of their live-in storefront. To a budding photographer, it's paradise.

Cantonese-Daily-Life.jpg"Cantonese Daily Life" - This scene epitomizes Guangzhou's lifestyle: people gathering outdoors, playing cards, chatting, and enjoying each other's company, reminding Samuel of Spain, his home country, where the union of people and outdoor connections are cherished. Photo by Samuel Rodríguez.

During the opening night, Rodríguez shared intriguing anecdotes about the moments and interactions that led to each photo, offering insights into his creative process and the stories that each image tells. 

The exhibition, which runs until June 18, is segmented into thematic sections that explore various facets of Guangzhou from its rich heritage to its vibrant and comfortable contemporary life.

Balancing-on-Wheels.jpg"Balance on Wheels" - This scene captures Guangzhou's spirit: no matter the load, we always find the strength to keep moving forward. Photo by Samuel Rodríguez.

This unique exhibition not only showcases the beauty of Guangzhou through the eyes of a foreigner, but also highlights the cultural bridge that Rodríguez aims to build between China and Spain through his artistic expression.

[Cover image courtesy of Changlong Wanbo China Resources Land Center]

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