Art & Dragon Sculpture at Toronto’s New Shangri-La Hotel


Water Dragon sculpture by Zhang Huan at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto

Rising, by Zhang Huan

Dragon sculpture unveiled at new Shangri-La Hotel

On Saturday, May 5, Rising, a massive sculpture adorning the front of the new Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto was unveiled, with the Shanghai-based artist Zhang Huan in attendance. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the steel dragon sculpture, which stands in a shallow pool of water, struck me as the embodiment of the mythical Chinese Water Dragon — and of course, this year, 2012, is the Year of the Water Dragon in traditional Chinese astrology. From what I understand, 2012 is forecasted to be a transition year, with movement towards greater consciousness.

Water Dragon sculpture by Zhang Huan at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto Photo credit: Feng Shui Agency

Photo credit: Feng Shui Agency

Enter the Dragon

I loved Rising instantly and intensely. It has a gleaming, monumental and mythical quality to it that I have rarely seen in a piece of modern sculpture of this scale. I love the way it twists and soars and wends its way up the side of the building. I love that is inspired, unexpected and lyrical.

Shangrila Hotel Toronto Zhang Huan at unveiling of dragon sculpture Rising

Zhang Huan and translator

And I also think it’s really great that the artist was feted — given a scroll, a large show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, called Ash Paintings and Memory Doors (which is also monumental, though in a very different way) and an opera production, Semele at the Canadian Opera Company. After the unveiling, everyone in attendance on the sidewalk was given a ticket to see Zhang Huan’s show at the AGO, and we all walked over in the bright sunshine to see more of his inspired work.

As a creative person, it’s heartening to see an artist doing well, receiving recognition, appreciation and presumably remuneration too.

I’m also excited about having a Shangri-La hotel here in Toronto. I know the Shanrgi-La Hotel in Delhi well; it is one of those oasis-like “five-stars” that are havens of cool, comfort and serenity among the chaos of Indian cities. I regularly find myself retreating within to have tea and a moment of peace.

Shangri-La Hotel TorontoAll in all, it was a lovely afternoon — spoilt only a little by getting a blessing from the huge incense sticks used to mark the opening of the ceremony. I walked into one so that I could get a good photo and burned a hole in one of my blouses.

Mariellen Ward
Mariellen Ward is a freelance travel writer whose personal style is informed by a background in journalism, a dedication to yoga and a passion for sharing the beauty of India's culture and wisdom with the world. She has traveled for about a year altogether in India and publishes an India travel blog, Mariellen also writes for magazines and newspapers.
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