Detour is a travelling exhibition featuring notebooks filled and decorated by internationally recognized authors. Visitors are invited to explore and discover each author’s creative process as it unfolds page by page. Some works contain extensive stories and illustrated narratives; others turn Moleskine notebooks into sculptures – pieces of contemporary art and design.
The first edition of this unique show toured London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Istanbul, Tokyo, Venice, and Shanghai. Today, Shanghai is the starting point for a new Detour journey. After the successful first edition, Detour is back in China with a new exhibition created in partnership with K-11 Shanghai, featuring 18 new Chinese and international authors.
Below is an overview of the authors participating in the project and their creative inspiration.
Liu Shuwei’s photographs work like mental landscapes from the darkness of the night. For Moleskine, Liu Shuwei has produced “Vanishing act/ 消失行动 » a photobook that might be seen as a guide to one’s own disappearance, or a series of vanishing moments. A collection of his photographs, along with poetic texts and various other elements, bring the audience into his mysterious world.
As part of his exploration of “The Italian Landscape”, Aldo Cibic pursues his reinterpretation of various natural and cultural elements of the Italian countryside. Like a childish De Chirico, he tries to capture the essential form of Italian identity playfully and innocently. For Moleskine, he has played with the shape of the Italian trees.
Guo Hongwei’s works are strongly influenced by traditional Chinese painting. Inspiration doesn’t usually come to a painter from an idea, but from the act of painting itself. As such, routinely painting watercolors in a notebook has become a very important part of Guo Hongwei’s artistic practice. For Moleskine, Guo Hongwei has made a notebook of twisted botanical paintings representing a series of wild mushrooms with a touch of the surreal.
In recent years, Jiang Zhi has been hosting weekly improvisational dance sessions in his Beijing Studio. These moments inspired him to shoot 《触与知》”Touch and Know”, his latest video art piece. Jiang Zhi’s notebook for Moleskine brings us backstage and invites us to discover his creative process. From a diary of his time filming to the project’s accounts, and from casting and rehearsal to the writing of the script, Jiang Zhi shows us that artistic creation can be a complex collective task.
Lionel Le Gal
"Detour inspires you to a state of “flânerie” and leads you to go off the beaten path. Walking and wandering around, keeping your senses alert for more discoveries. Detour can only exist if there is an itinerary. Detour contains the word “tour”, and touring wineries has become a trendy activity. Let me guide you on a detour through a Chinese wine garden. A “voyage” with a multi-sensory approach. Through these pages, I decided to pay a tribute to Chinese “terroirs” and the wines they are producing. Jump onboard!"
“The main inspiration for this collaboration with Moleskine is to combine traditional with modern calligraphy and design, showing younger generations the endless possibilities of calligraphy”.
Sketching has a very important place in Mao Guanshuai’s practice. His notebook for Moleskine shows us a slice of the artist’s creative process in his formal research on shapes. The cover is covered with sawdust from his studio, highlighting the contrast between the reality of manual artistic creation and the perceived glamour of the art world.
For more than a decade, Meng Yangyang has been painting faces and figures. Devoid of any mannerist effects, her paintings are striking in how simple and direct they are, almost ascetic. For Moleskine, Meng Yangyang has made a notebook of her watercolors, creating a rhythmic story where abstract moments are in dialogue with her depictions of the human body.
Nelson Leung Wai
A prominent figure in the local design scene, he studied graphic design, visual art, and photography in Hong Kong. Through his job in photography, he has documented a number of high-profile events, including the Olympic Games. In his creation for Moleskine, he expresses his passion for photography.
Chinese fashion designer Shuting Qiu presents a modern romantic female image: confident and with the courage to express herself, while maintaining a soft and romantic heart. The notebook she has created for the exhibition is inspired by her childhood memories of sketching in nature in her hometown, Hangzhou.
Tango, Gao Youjun
Shanghai-born artist, illustrator and author Tango gained global popularity for his quirky cartoons, which poke fun at the everyday routines and oddities of modern life. Today, Tango is one of China’s most popular illustrators as well as a renowned advertising creative director.
Ren Tianjin is interested in cross-border innovation, digging out power from traditional ink and wash, and borrowing from modern Western art forms to transform traditional art using a contemporary visual language. Many of his works are created on canvas with an oil paint knife and acrylic. In his work, the image is like a shadow of a tree, showing traces of time and change. Another example is the superimposition of Plato's so-called "shadow world" and the world of truth with the interweaving of the unconscious and subconscious in Freudian psychoanalysis. The result is a brand-new artistic language and aesthetic orientation.
Knowledge is a sharp tool. It serves to slice good memories from our lives. “The pen is mightier than the sword”, says the proverb. In a similar spirit and faithful to his sassy attitude, Tong Kunniao turns a Classic Moleskine notebook into a cleaver of knowledge, cutting slices of good memories from life. Using a collage of materials as his main medium for creation, the artist creates subversive and darkly humorous pieces that play on the logical and semiological contradictions between different components.
Renowned for her colorful pop universe, Wang Ruohan’s shapes are combined with simplified figures in a collage style to produce energetic and vibrant images. The artist plays with a wide range of media but has mainly been experimenting with silkscreen printmaking. For Moleskine, she uses silkscreen to show us a dance. Playing with the transparency of the paper, she creates an illusion of movement.
Yann Debelle de Montby
Renowned as an art director, Yann Debelle de Montby also has a secret passion for photography and is an avid collector of vintage cameras. For Moleskine, Yann has made “Imperfect Grains and Potential Blurs”: a unique photobook featuring some of his photographs printed in a large format on translucent paper to give them a dreamlike effect. Like hidden little treasures, the viewer has to unfold each of the images to discover them.
Trained as a scientist and ink painter, Zhang Xiaoli is always keen to challenge our views on traditional art forms. Her paintings reinterpret Chinese landscape representation with the use of a Lego-based language. Playful yet serious, she makes dialogue with the past easier and more relatable. For Moleskine, Zhang Xiaoli uses the notebook to recreate a landscape in three dimensions.
Cats have always been considered treasured companions as pets. Their refinement makes them a source of inspiration for many major artists and writers. Staring into her cat's eyes often gives artist Zhuang Ying a sense of penetrating a new world. Her Notebook for Moleskine explores the mysterious and fascinating shape variations of her cat’s eyes.
“My art comes from my perception and feelings about life. Complete and broken, illusion and reality, sensibility, and rationality: all contradictions stem from our feelings and perception of life. The intuitive feelings brought about by life are diverse. Nature can heal us, and it can also allow us to regain our original self and find the right way to live”.