Cartoonmuseum Basel

Visual Words

Comics from China


The Cartoonmuseum Basel presents the first large exhibition of contemporary Chinese comic art in Switzerland. The exhibition is a collaboration with the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC). “Visual Words” takes visitors to meet the most influential artists and art collectives, and shows how Chinese comics were first a medium to entertain the masses, before becoming an important companion of the emerging youth cultures. Masterful ink drawings, scraperboard pictures, water colours, acrylic paintings and wood cut meet computer-drawn and animated contemporary comic art. The first two parts of the exhibition are dedicated to the development of the stylistically coherent lianhuanhua (“Picture chains”), cheap black and white booklets in landscape format and of impressive graphic quality. These booklets were printed in millions and read even in the remotest corners of the People’s Republic of China. In the 1950s these booklets, that also rendered classical works of Chinese literature, became part of the political education and social discourse in China.The third part of the exhibition focuses on the manhua that are widely read today. These booklets vary in artistic style and the topics they discuss. They are a colourful expression of a society in transformation, where economic and cultural differences are getting bigger and bigger.
Curators: Dr. Andreas Seifert, Anette Gehrig