Tim Burton exhibit featured in Shanghai’s Huangpu District

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The Lafayette Arts and Design Center of Shanghai’s Huangpu District is now the temporary home to the strange and awry creations of award-winning artist and creator, Tim Burton.

Shanghai: “The World of Tim Burton” displays Burton’s early illustrations and character designs on napkins. Jenna Salisbury I Concordiensis
Shanghai: “The World of Tim Burton” displays Burton’s early illustrations and character designs on napkins. Jenna Salisbury I Concordiensis

The nine-part exhibition, entitled “The World of Tim Burton,” boasts many of the artist’s most famous sketches and movies, including the iconic “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Edward Scissorhands” as well as lesser known works, like “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and other Stories” and unfinished storyboards such as “Trick or Treat.”

The exhibition also features some of Burton’s earliest works prior to being discovered, including a dumpster truck advertisement he drew when he was eighteen for a local trash business stationed in his hometown of Burbank, California, and a manuscript of a children’s book entitled, “The Giant Zlig” that Burton wrote and illustrated as a teenager.

The book itself was kindly rejected by Walt Disney Publications in 1976, but the exhibition also includes a full circled series of events as it also includes many of Burton’s drawings as an art student at the California Institute of the Arts and as an apprentice animator for Walt Disney Studios.

In addition to these pre-professional and professional pieces, the exhibition also boasted large collections of unfinished or rough sketches drawn on napkins and hotel notebooks. Many of the works featured in “The World of Tim Burton” exemplify Burton’s notoriously unique and eerie style.

Again and again the exhibit stresses the distorted reality Burton creates inspired by typical people and places he encounters on a day-to-day basis. For example, one such piece depicted what appeared to be a monster with pink curlers in its hair juggling children, a frying pan of food and various other household chores while also watching TV.

The piece was entitled “Mothera” and particularly captured my attention as it represented the daily struggles mothers face in balancing the needs of their families and friends with their own.

The exhibition also gave onlookers an incredibly detailed inside look into Burton’s creative process, featuring various manuscripts of screenplays for famous movies like “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and the cult classic, “Mars Attacks.” Such displays also exhibited Burton’s love of the fantastical and frightening.

Some works made clever uses of word play such as a piece depicting a couple eating each other with the caption, “Man and Woman Enjoying Each Other.” Another piece called “We Like to Hold Hands” included the illustration of a couple grasping dismembered human hands and smiling creepily.

Such works truly exemplify Burton’s love for incorporating the quirkily funny with the horrifyingly dark and dismal.

A major highlight of “The World of Tim Burton” exhibition was the interactive installation featuring life size replicas of some of Burton’s creations from movies such as “Beetlejuice” and “A Corpse Bride.”

Museum-goers had the opportunity to pose, touch and even climb these giant replicas and it was almost resembling being in an actual stop motion Tim Burton film.

The exhibition was well composed and contained the creative life of Burton’s work from aspiring artist to award winning household name.

“The World of Tim Burton” will remain in Shanghai’s Lafayette Arts and Design Center up until Sunday, October 10. Tickets are $20-25 and may be reserved online. The exhibit itself is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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