Title: WATER CUBE FOR CLEAN AIR & HEALTHY LIFE 水立方，清新空气美好生活
Artist: Nicholas Bonner/Dominic Johnson Hill with DPRK artist
Year: September 2008
Medium: Gouache on paper
Dimensions: 73.5 x 103 cm
Development of the artwork
Originally built for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games the Water Cube was the main venue for swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo.
The North Korean artist worked on this painting from images we found online as the stadium was not yet completed. The exterior space is a bizarre extension of the Water Cube; the cube’s function being for elite swimmers whereas the exterior space centres around a group of old Beijing folk who are spending their recreation amongst frozen blocks of ice.
It is based on a group of retired swimmers who in the depths of winter swim in the frozen Houhai lake in Beijing for health benefits. The artist introduces a surreal lightness with the man sat on an ice block smoking cigarette.
The costumes are very North Korean, for ladies a full costume, certainly no bikini.
Contemporary North Korea swimming costumes