An extraordinary illustrated Journey Through Nanjing’s Past, Present, and Future by Norino Shi

蒼然Gloomy, 灼灼Glowing, 曙天Dawn and 圓環Ring is a set of dimensional illustrations by Norino Shi for group show Let the Adventure Begin: The world we see at Deji Art+Action Gallery in Nanjing, China. Inspired by Nanjing’s iconic landmarks – the Old East Alley, the Jiming Temple Gate, and the Nanjing Eye – this exhibition encapsulates the essence of the city’s soul.

The trilogy of landscapes serves as more than mere artistic representations; they symbolize distinct temporal phases. “Gloomy” mirrors the city’s past, bathed in the gentle hues of twilight as the setting sun casts long shadows across historical alleys and timeworn streets. The brushstrokes capture the nostalgic charm of the Old East Alley, a place steeped in stories of generations past. Each stroke seems to whisper secrets of bygone eras, reminding visitors that every corner has a tale to tell.

Contrastingly, “Glowing” thrusts the observer into the brightness of the present afternoon. Here, Nanjing’s bustling vitality is embodied by the Jiming Temple Gate, where streams of people converge and diverge like rivulets, weaving the fabric of contemporary life. The artwork vibrates with an energy that mirrors the city’s pulse, its modernity illuminated by the sun’s unrelenting radiance. It’s a testament to Nanjing’s ceaseless evolution, where tradition and innovation coalesce, explains Norino Shi.

“Dawn” signifies the city’s future, depicted as a realm of starry expanses. The Nanjing Eye, a marvel of engineering, is a fitting metaphor for the city’s aspirations. As lights shimmer and dance across the river’s surface, one can’t help but feel the hope and anticipation that the future holds. The artwork captures the essence of Nanjing’s dreams, reminding us that the city’s destiny is as boundless as the cosmos.

Yet, these illustrations by Norino Shi are not mere images; they are windows into the extraordinary embedded within the ordinary. Amidst the daily routine, there exist ephemeral moments that flicker like fireflies in the night. The artwork beckons viewers to pause, to seek out these fleeting fragments that link us to the ethereal. It encourages us to gaze at the world with fresh eyes, revealing treasures that endure as cherished memories, vivid even after the passage of years.

At the core of this exhibition lies a compass-inspired masterpiece, a tribute to Nanjing’s heart – Xinjiekou. The compass embodies more than direction; it encapsulates history, progress, and connectivity. The Xinjiekou subway station, a bustling crossroads, takes center stage in this intricate design. Around it, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, an architectural gem and a historical touchstone, forms an inspirational border. This fusion is a visual homage to Xinjiekou’s pivotal role in Nanjing’s narrative, bridging past and present, and promising to stand as a beacon for generations to come.

As visitors traverse the “Gloomy, Glowing, Dawn and Ring” exhibition, they become time travelers, experiencing Nanjing’s old-world charm, embracing its modern dynamism, and gazing into its starlit aspirations. The art of Norino Shi transcends its dimensions, touching the strings of memory and casting visions of an inspiring future. It reminds us that in the tapestry of the mundane lies the extraordinary, waiting to be discovered by those who dare to look beyond.

In the heart of Nanjing, a city that has witnessed dynasties rise and fall, a new dynasty is born – one of art, inspiration, and enduring legacy. “Gloomy, Glowing, Dawn and Ring” is not just an exhibition; it’s a testament of Norino Shi to the timeless spirit of Nanjing, a symphony that resonates through time, reminding us of the beauty of the past, the vitality of the present, and the boundless potential of the future.

Norino Shi is an award-winning digital artist, illustrator, director and visual narrative artist. Born in China and currently based in New York, she has produced illustration commissions for a number of personal and commercial clients, and has her works showcased in multiple galleries across the world. Her works mainly focus on females, Asians immigrants, and uncertainty about the universe & life and death.

Considering herself as a Global Citizen, Norino Shi works also include a considerable number of fantasy-style works, mainly landscapes, with a view to creating a free spiritual world by stepping out of the shackles of space and time at present. She currently works as a Digital Art Program Coordinator for an independent female bookstore & publishing agency in New Jersey.

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