LIFE / CULTURE
New Mickey Mouse exhibition kicks off in Beijing, fusing contemporary art with Chinese decor
Published: Jul 25, 2022 06:59 PM
Disney kicked off the exhibition <em>Mickey: the True Original & Ever Curious</em> at Beijing's Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) Lab on July 23.Photo: Courtesy of Peng Jianfeng

Disney kicked off the exhibition Mickey: the True Original & Ever Curious at Beijing's Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) Lab on July 23.Photo: Courtesy of  UCCA Lab


The exhibition Mickey: the True Original & Ever Curious has kciked off in Beijing on Saturday, jointly held by Disney and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) Lab. In the next four months, a number of contemporary artists will present their new ideas and understanding of this classic character.

Beijing is the last stop on a cross-country tour that saw the exhibition travel to Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen. The last will also be the largest as a total of 60 teams of artists from home and abroad are reinterpreting their "old friend" Mickey Mouse through paintings, sculptures, calligraphy works, installations, new media and even literature works.

"These outstanding artistic talents have explored multiple art forms to combine Mickey and Chinese culture together, presenting the wonderful Mickey art exhibition that we see now," Mao Qiang, consumer products manager for Disney China, said in a speech during the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Ever since Steamboat Willie, the first animated film with synchronized sound, hit the silver screen in New York in 1928, a little dancing mouse - Mickey Mouse - has captured the hearts and minds of people of all ages and across generations around the globe.

In the past nearly 100 years, as societies, economies and cultures have developed and the spiritual needs of people have changed, Mickey Mouse has grown from the protagonist of early animated short films to a global pop cultural icon that has transcended cultural and regional differences and become a positive force of influence across animation, art and beyond. The spirit of optimism, curiosity and fearlessness that Mickey represents continues to propel the character to explore and push boundaries, making his legacy today as strong as ever.

The current exhibition was held for the first time in New York in 2018 to celebrate Mickey's 90th anniversary. Disney invited artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to re-imagine the world-famous animated character, sparking a fantastical exploration of the possibilities of what Mickey means to our times.

In 2020 in Tokyo, the exhibition was further upgraded to what we see now. However, in addition to the important artworks displayed in Tokyo and New York, the Beijing exhibition will see 34 Chinese contemporary artists contribute their own new creations featuring brand new definitions of Mickey. 

The exhibition, encompassing four sections, displays how the artists express their own interpretation of the character. Some put Mickey in a dialogue with current trendy symbols and everyday objects while others deconstruct and reconstruct the classic image or use the character to tell stories about their childhoods and the future.

Apart from the excellent works from the 60 artists, three other Chinese artists' works will be specially presented during the Beijing stop.

Artwork from Blackbow  examines the concept of the universe through the frame of Mickey. Inspired by the Chinese people's continuous exploration of time and space, the work makes use of stones and mirrors to present a prototype of multi-dimensional space in Meteorite Mickey.Photo: Courtesy of Peng Jianfeng

Artwork from Blackbow examines the concept of the universe through the frame of Mickey. Inspired by the Chinese people's continuous exploration of time and space, the work makes use of stones and mirrors to present a prototype of multi-dimensional space in Meteorite Mickey.Photo: Courtesy of  UCCA Lab


Artwork from Blackbow, the world's top cross-media art team, examines the concept of the universe through the frame of Mickey. Inspired by the Chinese people's continuous exploration of time, space and universe from ancient times to the present, the work makes use of stones and mirrors to present a prototype of multi-dimensional space in Meteorite Mickey.
Artist Wang Zigeng and his artwork Mickey-shaped space helmet. He aged it to appear as an

Artist Wang Zigeng and his artwork Mickey-shaped space helmet. He aged it to appear as an "archaeological relic" that would be at home on display at a history museum to illustrate the idea of a century of Mickey. Photo: Courtesy of  UCCA Lab

Another artist Wang Zigeng borrowed concepts from first-generation aerospace models and technical features to create a Mickey-shaped space helmet. He aged it to appear as an "archaeological relic" that would be at home on display at a history museum to illustrate the idea of a century of Mickey.

While the Beijing exhibition follows the arrangement and design of the last three stops in China, it still brings some new interpretations at the same time. 

The first floor of the exhibition hall borrows many elements of urban open squares, such as landscape walls and street gardens, while the second floor is designed after a traditional Chinese garden, turning the double-height hall into an enjoyable space.

The exhibition is set to run until November 6.

Global Times