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Do you want peas with your Picasso?
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By Celine Chen

Vegetables can be described as delicious, or nutritious or even colorful; calling them artistic is a bit of a stretch. But Ju Duoqi, a talented young Chinese artist, has used vegetables to recreate some of the masterpieces of western painting.

The Raft of the Lotus Roots, French painter Théodore Géricault's famous painting (Raft of the Medusa) recreated using vegetables by Chinese artist Ju Duoqi. 

Her works, the Vegetable museum series, are on show at the Paris Beijing Photo Gallery in the 798 art district from November 23, 2008 until January 24, 2009.

Mixing everyday vegetables such as tofu, cabbage, ginger, lotus roots, coriander and sweet potato, and adding a dash of digital manipulation, Ju presents a puzzling series of vegetable compositions representing world famous paintings like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper by Leonard Da Vinci, The Dream by Pablo Picasso and Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol.

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Beijing's 798 District

"In the summer of 2006, I bought a few kilograms of peas, and sat there quietly for two days peeling them, before stringing them on a wire and turning them into a skirt, a top, a headdress and a magic wand. I used a remote control to take a photo of myself in them, and named it Pea Beauty Pageant. That was my first work of vegetable art," Ju Duoqi said, recalling her first vegetable composition.

She began to find vegetables, normally associated with household drudgery, more and more interesting. The different types, shapes and colors of the vegetables, with a bit of rearranging, can make for a rich source of imagery. Fresh, withered, rotting, dried, pickled, boiled, fried, they all come out different.

Then she realized that as a photographer, she no longer needed models – she arranged her legumes and took photos of them. "I have found a way of life for women who love the home," Ju said, explaining the theme of her works. Anne Cooper Chen, an American visitor, commented, "These carry a great sense of humor."

Xin Li, another visitor, who has lived in France for more than six years, said, "These are very French. French artists are more likely to look for the artistic side of everyday life. They can create works of art with a piece of chalk sticks and a wall."

Born in 1973 in Chongqing, Ju Duoqi graduated from the Sichuan Fine Arts College. She currently lives and works in Beijing. Part of the one child policy generation, Ju Duoqi has witnessed China's transformation from an agricultural to a post industrial society.

More information:

Solo Exhibition – Photography
Exhibition Dates: November 23, 2008 -- January 24, 2009
Venue: Paris-Beijing Photo Gallery II

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