The World’s Most Attended Art Biennale Was Held at the National Art Museum of China
The World’s Most Attended Art Biennale Was Held at the National Art Museum of China
The 7th Beijing International Art Biennale under the theme of “The Silk Road and World Civilizations” Was Held on September 24
Illustrating the Ever-renewing Spirit of the Silk Road by Hundreds of Participating Countries
Appreciating Exchange and Integration of World Civilizations by Millions of Attentive Audiences
As the Belt and Road Initiative continues to grow, more countries are joining in, resulting in a great number of achievements via political, economic and cultural exchanges. It is in this great context that, after a year-long preparation which included a theme-choosing meeting, press conference on the Biennale’s preparation, theme-based symposium, selection session and pre-exhibition press conference, an international feast of visual arts that celebrates the participation of artists from well over a hundred countries takes place at the National Art Museum of China. From September 24 to October 15, 2017, the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale, China 2017 jointly sponsored by China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, the Beijing Municipal Government and China Artists Association was held at the National Art Museum of China.
Guests of honor came in crowds at the opening ceremony. The art carnival for artists from five continents got attention from all over the world. Many countries financed their participating artists to come to China for the opening ceremony of the 7th Beijing Biennale.
On September 24，the opening ceremony of the 7th Beijing Biennale was held at the National Art Museum of China. Domestic guests of honor at the opening ceremony are Mr. Li Yi，Secretary of the Party Leadership Group, Vice Executive President and Secretary of the Secretariat of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Mr. Zuo Zhongyi, Member of the Party Leadership Group and Vice President of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Mr. Lin Jun, Former Chairman of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese，Mr. Zhang Jianxing, Deputy Director of People’s Daily, Ms. Zhao Shaohua, Former Minister of Ministry of Culture, Member of the Standing Committee and Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, Deputy Director-General and Secretary-General of China National Arts Fund，Mr. Liu Dawei, Chairman of the China Artists Association, Mr. Guo Wu, Director-General of the Administrative Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Zhang Yanbin, Director General of the Department of Overseas Promotion under the Publicity Department of CPC Central Committee, Ms. Zhou Lining, Director General of the Department of Art under the Ministry of Culture, Mr. Xu Li, Vice Executive Chairman and Secretary General of the China Artists Association, Mr. Chen Dong, Director General of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture，Mr. Wu Weishan, Curator of the National Art Museum of China and Vice Chairman of the China Artists Association, Mr.Yang Xiaoyang, President of China National Academy of Painting and Vice Chairman of the China Artists Association, Mr. Dong Zhanshun, Director-General of the Department of International Liaison of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Mr. Deng Guanghui, Director-General of the General Office of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Ms. Tao Qin, Deputy Secretary of the Party Leadership Group, Counsel and Deputy Secretary General of the China Artists Association，Mr. Liang Yonglin, Director General of the Department of Culture and Art of People’s Daily, Mr. Du Jun, Deputy Secretary General of the China Artists Association, Counsel and members of the curatorial committee of the Beijing Biennale and part of domestic participating artists.
The opening ceremony of the 7th Beijing Biennale
Guests of honor on the podium at the opening ceremony of the 7th Beijing Biennale
Guests from all over the world at the opening ceremony of the 7th Beijing Biennale
Xu Li, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the China Artists Association is hosting the opening ceremony
Photographed by Liu Hong
Guests of honor from foreign countries include Ms. Lydia Koniordou, Greek Minister of Culture and Sport，Mr. Zeynalli Akram, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to China, Mr. Anwar Alabdulla, Ambassador of Bahrain to China, Ms. Patricia Rodríguez H?lkemeyer, Ambassador of Costa Rica to China and Mr. Vicente Llorca Saprissa, Mr. José M. Borja L, Ambassador of Ecuador to China and Ms. Sandra Acurio de Borja, Mr. Vassilios Costis，Ambassador of Greece to China，Mr. Soegeng Rahardjo, Ambassador of Indonesia to China, Mr. Mohamed Faisal, Ambassador of Maldives and Ms. Jeehan Saleem, Mr. Francisco Carlo Escobar Pedreschi, Ambassador of Panama, Mr. Jean-Jacques de Dardel, Ambassador of Switzerland to China, Mr. Mohamed Othman Almekhlafi, Ambassador of Yemen to China, Mr. Mohamed Noman Galal, Ambassador of Egypt to Bahrain and Ms. Kawther El-Sherif, Ms. Sandra Salamanca, Minister of the Embassy of Columbia, Ms. Myrianthi Spathi, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Cyprus, Mr. Vasilii Babunashvili，Minister of the Embassy of Georgia, Ms. Inese Liepina, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Latvia, Mr. Bas Pulles, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands to China, Ms. Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Pakistan and officials for culture and journalism affairs from embassies of Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Columbia， Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus，Ecuador，Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sweden，Switzerland, Venezuela and Yemen. Our distinguished guests also include nearly 200 artists came along to China to participate in the exhibition. Mr. Vladimir Potapenko, Deputy Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Mr. Irie Kan, Vice President of the Japan-China Cultural Exchange Association, Mr. Rémy Aron, president of the France Artists Association, Mr. Tumurbaatar Badarch, president of the Union of Mongolian Artists and Mr. Vencenzo Sanfo, representative of the international curator of Beijing Biennale also attended the opening ceremony, which stands as the first at the number of guests of honor participating in the event.
Mr. Liu Dawei, Chairman of the China Artists Association, Ms. Lydia Koniordou, Greek Minister of Culture and Sport and Mr. Li Yi, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group, Vice Executive President and Secretary of the Secretariat of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles delivered speeches at the opening ceremony which is hosted by Mr. Xu Li, Vice Executive President of the China Artists Association.
Li Yi, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group and Vice Chairman and Secretary of the Secretariat of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles is delivering a speech
Photographed by Liu Hong
In the speech of the Mr. Li Yi, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group, Vice Executive President and Secretary of the Secretariat of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, he mentioned the following remarks:
“What we call “fine art” is a delightful type of visual art. Throughout a long history of development, fine arts have movingly and vividly recorded the historical culture, the customs and practices, and the aesthetical standards of all countries and peoples. Since its foundation, the Beijing International Art Biennale has been upholding a bright artistic ideal, and consisting in “respecting cultural diversity and creating a harmonious world.” It has widely called for the participation of each country’s most representative works of art and, in the form of theme exhibitions and seminars, provided an artistic space for all artists to engage in exchanges and dialogues; thus it enjoys the wide recognition and active participation of artists both in China and foreign countries. In the 15 years since its foundation, more than 120 countries have taken part in the Biennale. It has formed a cooperation network that connects the five continents, providing an important platform for artists of all nationalities in the world to exhibit their talents and styles, as well as activity space for exchanges, mutual learning and the common development of the artistic enterprises of all peoples. With this year’s exhibition, we hope to fully demonstrate the spiritual features – marked by innovative achievements and harmonious progress – of the international arts community; display excellent traditional Chinese culture, as well as the great contemporary practices of the country post-Reform and Opening; and further deepen cooperation and friendship with the international arts community, making new contributions for the prosperous development of world arts.
SHI Tao, great Chinese artist of the Qing dynasty, once said: “Brush and ink follow the times.” We also believe that the vitality of artistic creation resides in its compliance with and reflection of the trends and spirit of the times. Through innovative creative practices, it should seek to eulogize the people’s love for life. This year’s Biennale’s theme is: “The Silk Road & World Civilization.” This theme seems just right for the times. This is our response to the Belt and Road Initiative of China and the participation of the international community, which deeply embodies this year’s exhibition concern with international exchanges and cooperation. It embodies the common aspiration of all participating parties to the Silk Road spirit of “peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefits.”
In the autumn of 2013, Chinese President XI Jinping took a clear look at development trends in the world and, conforming with international cooperation trends, put forward his conception for the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, or the Belt and Road Initiative. In 4 years, this initiative has earned the active support and wide participation of over 100 countries and international organization all over the world, gradually turning ideas into actions and visions into realities, making remarkable achievements. In May of this year was successfully held the Belt & Road International Cooperation Summit, for which guests from over 100 countries gathered in Beijing to discuss cooperation and development. It was an unprecedented occasion that yielded rich results. Among these results, the “expansion of human exchanges” has become an important objective for cooperation construction; “respect for the diversity of nature and culture” has become the basic principle of cooperation; and the “Silk Road Spirit” has become the wide consensus of all countries. These achievements will allow us to better learn from each other culturally and artistically while promoting the interconnections between the peoples of all countries. The Biennale blends with the Silk Road spirit by bestowing it a stronger foundation and a wider stage, as well as by being inclusive, modern and full of vitality. This year’s exhibition will see the participation of artists from more than 100 countries, among which nearly 60 are countries along the Silk Road. These artists have contributed a total of 600 works of art. Although they all follow the same theme, artists have employed diverse forms of artistic expression to depict the remains of the ancient Silk Road civilization and the customs of different countries, as well as their peoples’ unremitting pursuit of peace and beauty in life. With the joint efforts of the exhibition’s organizers and participants, this is a spectacular display in the Silk Road “style”, passing on the Silk Road spirit through its appreciation and discussion.
Ms. Lydia Koniordou, Greek Minister of Culture and Sport is delivering a speech
Photographed by Liu Hong
In the speech of Ms. Lydia Koniordou, Greek Minister of Culture and Sport, she strengthened the following points:
The Greece-China year of cultural exchange is an opportunity for dialogue, reflection and exchange. It is a pivotal year for a renewed encounter between two of the oldest civilizations in the world, whose impact on the western world is still visible to this day. Yet in this context of exchange, the two cultures could not limit themselves in the past only. Moreover, as their contemporary creation demonstrates a remarkable mobility, intellect and extroversion.
The exhibition entitled The Body-The Soul- The place, organized by the State Museum of Contemporary Art in the context of this year’s Beijing Biennale, demonstrates in the best possible way the vitality and extroversion of contemporary Greek art. 27 Greek artists and 35 works, cover a broad range of expressive means - from painting, sculpture and engraving, to video art, photography and installation. It is the first time that Greece is officially hosted in Beijing in such an event, with this many contemporary Greek artists, and for that we are equally thankful to the Biennale organizers and the Greek organizers from the State Museum of Contemporary Art, for their remarkable efforts and collaboration.
All the contemporary processes and practices taking place in Greece, are distilled in the triptych Body- Soul- Place. The Place describes the artists’ own roots, the traditions with which they converse as well as the nomadic spirit of contemporary artists. The Soul, describes the artists’ kernel, the uniqueness, subjectivity and particular emotion of each and every artist. The body is the canvas of the contemporary performer, the vessel of the subject that allows for self-expression. Through these parameters, the participating artists develop their own vocabulary towards a distinct as well as international language, in a quest for individual and global dimensions.
Liu Dawei, Chairman of the China Artists Association is delivering a speech
Photographed by Liu Hong
In the speech of Mr. Liu Dawei, he talked about the following points:
Over a decade ago, in September of 2003, it is at the same place where we are now standing that the first Beijing Biennale made its debut. At that time, there was a saying that the paintings and all other easel art have come to an end. If Beijing wants to organize an art biennale, it needs to follow the trend of video, multi-media and performance art instead of focusing on paintings and sculptures. But after about 10 years, the achievements it has made attracted the world attention. It is honor for me to be the initiator of the exhibition and witnessed its development.
The spirit and subjects of the Silk Road have awakened the power of imagination and thirst for aesthetics which are now continuously transformed into artistic experiments in new forms and expressions. In between the tendencies of seeking common ground and reserving differences is a huge space of development which gives rise to a splendid scene where the Eastern and Western arts integrate but each is unique on its own. It can be said that the works on exhibition themselves are the outcome of exchange and mutual learning among world civilizations, and that they are artistic expressions of the Eastern and Western civilizations in their mutual exchange and convergence on the theme of the Silk Road.
Remarks of president Xi Jinping on the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14th, 2017 go like this: Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes embody the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. The Silk Road spirit has become a great heritage of human civilization. The 7th Beijing Biennale takes “The Silk Road and World Civilizations” as its theme, aiming to carry forward the spirit of the Silk Road and uphold the cultural exchange and mutual learning and promote the realization of people’s common aspiration for peaceful development and the “Belt and Road” Initiative by means of contemporary art. The international symposium of the 7th Beijing Biennale under the theme of “The Spirit of the Silk Road and Creation of International Contemporary Art” held on September 25th reflects the same principle. Representative from all over the world will express their opinions freely which will be a theoretical uplift for cross-border artistic exchange and communication.
Ever since its opening in 2003, the Beijing Biennale has long adhered to the principle of displaying contemporary painting and sculpture, establishing regulations and working mechanisms that are like no other art biennales in the world. This has won the recognition and praise of artists around the world, building the Biennale into a signature event of Beijing and Chinese art circles as well as the world’s biggest platform for painting and sculpture exhibitions. The cultural ministries of Egypt, Guinea and Benin, among other countries, and other international cultural institutes have always offered to cover the travel expenses for artists whose works are among the selected. The Chinese embassy to Fiji also offered to pay for the flight for its participant this year. Diplomatic and cultural institutes have long considered the Beijing Biennale a valuable event worthy of assistance.
Liu Dawei, Chairman of the China Artists Association is accompanying the guests of honor to visit the exhibition
Photographed by Liu Hong
Xu Li, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the China Artists Association is accompanying the guests of honor to visit the exhibition
Tao Qin, Deputy Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the China Artists Association is guiding the guests of honor to appreciate the works
The Largest and Most Internationally Attended Art Exhibition in 15 Years. More than 20 Ambassadors to China Have Sent Their Congratulatory Letters on the Exhibition’s 15th Anniversary
After the press conference regarding the Biennale’s preparation work, the curatorial committee reached out to international curators, art institutes, embassies and consulates of more than 130 countries. Having received more than 10,000 pieces from more than 120 countries, the Beijing Biennale finally selected 567 artists from 102 countries to exhibit. The countries of origin cover all five continents.. The 7th Beijing Biennale involves 601 artworks. Among them, 411 artworks (including works on special exhibitions) are from foreign countries and 190 are from China, covering multiple categories, painting, sculpture, installation, video and other media. More than 600 artistic styles represented by these artworks can be taken as a convincing proof that the theme of the exhibition “The Silk Road and World Civilization”attracted global attention.
In addition to the theme exhibition, the Beijing Biennale also received more than 10 applications to hold additional special exhibitions. After careful consideration, there are six special exhibitions, namelythe “Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art of Georgia”, the “Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art ofGreece”, the “Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art of Indonesia”, the “Special Exhibition of Contemporary Artof Mongolia”, the “The Tour of Art from Tintoretto to Lilanga” and the “Special Exhibition of Donated Artworksfrom Previous Beijing Biennales”apart from its theme exhibition. The exhibition includes masterpieces from renowned painters like Tintoretto and Dali as well as prominent works by leading contemporary artists from Georgia, Greece, Indonesia and Mongolia. Dozens of other prized pieces selected from more than 500 Beijing Biennale past exhibitions will introduce the audience to previously displayed artistic achievements.
Vencenzo Sanfo, the international curator of the curatorial committee of Beijing Biennale is making introduction of the sculpture by Dali
This year coincides with the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Biennale. Initiated in 2003, it has been successfully held for six sessions. The number of participating countries has increasedfrom 45 in the 1st exhibition to 102 in the 7thin just 15 years, leaping on top of world international biennalestestifyingto a fact that the Beijing International Art Biennale is increasingly uplifting its popularity, influence andattraction in world scope, which in turn becomes a bonus point to the charisma of Beijing, the ancient cultural cityas a metropolis. There are altogether millions of audiences visited the exhibition and it stands out as the only exhibitionof the international artistic community that attracted more than 100 participating countries. Among them, Benin, Central African Republic, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Guinea, Honduras, Maldives, Palestine, Panama, Seychelles, Tanzania and Yemen are countries attending the Biennale for the first time.
For the Beijing Biennale, which is held every two years, fifteen years means a course of development of nearly 5,500 days. Yet in history, fifteen years is no more than a blink of time. However, the Beijing Biennale has always witnessed and is a practitioner of China’s national rejuvenation in the new millennium. The rapid development of the exhibition is a reflection, in the form of art, of the PRC’s growing international influence. More than 20 ambassadors to China have sent their congratulatory letters. The countries include Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Indonesia, Iraq, Laos, Maldives, Mexico, the Netherlands, Palestine, Pakistan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and Syria. Other people and institutes that have offered greetings include the Austrian Embassy, the Hungarian Embassy, the Chinese ambassador to Armenia, the Chinese ambassador to Eritrea, the Chinese ambassador to Guinea, the Chinese Embassy in Equatorial Guinea, the Chinese Embassy in Nepal, the Thailand Ministry of Culture, the Bulgarian Artists Association, the Thessaloniki State Museum of Contemporary Art of Greece, Japan-China Cultural Exchange Association, the Mongolian Artists’ Association and the Korean Cultural Center.
The Theme of the Beijing Biennale Corresponds to the Belt and Road Initiative, the National Art Museum of China Brim with Variety and Color
The theme of this year’s biennale, Silk Road and World Civilization, seeks to promote the cooperative spirit of the Silk Road and exchanges between the civilizations of the world. By contributing to building the Belt and Road Initiative, contemporary art hopes to play a role in the fulfillment of a common dream shared by all: world peace and development. In its 15th year, the Beijing Biennale has grown into a significant platform for exchange and exhibition in the Chinese as well as world art circles. The Biennale is not only a practice corresponding to the Belt and Road Initiative, but also a platform for artists around the world to show their talents and engage in artistic exchanges. The specially produced paintings and sculptures gathering in Beijing will present for us, in the form of visual art, a portrayal of the Silk Road and the world’s civilizations. The works will also explore the interaction among human civilizations through history, demonstrate the achievements of cultural exchanges and write a new chapter on the integrated development of world cultures.
Just as Curatorial Committee Member Wang Yong described in the forward of the catalogue of the 7th Beijing Biennale: Focusing on the same theme, these works employ diverse forms of artistic expression, from the figurative to the abstract, from realism to surrealism. Though most works depict cultural relics of the ancient Silk Road, customs of different countries and symbolic images, they are not to mourn for days of yore, nor to explain political terms. Rather they stress on the expression of the Silk Road spirit, the spirit of mutual learning and integration among world civilizations instead of confrontation and conflict. In terms of manifold artistic expressions, a marked feature of the works on show is a mixture of realistic and romantic styles and coexistence of integration and difference. In between the tendencies of seeking common ground and reserving differences is a huge space of development which gives rise to a splendid scene where the Eastern and Western arts integrate but each is unique on its own. It is safe to say that the works on exhibition themselves are the outcome of exchange and mutual learning among world civilizations, and that they are artistic expressions of the Eastern and Western civilizations in their mutual exchange and convergence on the theme of the Silk Road.
A New Chapter of the Maritime Silk Road
Zheng Baizhong（China）/ 2017 / heavy color on paper / 300cm×600cm
It’s worth mentioning that the organizing committee specially invited several Chinese artists to create two big-sized theme based artworks in a limited period of time. One is six-meter-long Chinese painting A New Chapter of the Maritime Silk Road and the other is eight-meter-long oil painting The New Chapter of the Silk Road.
The New Chapter of the Silk Road
FengLumin, Yang Xiaomao, Zhang Yanzhao, Yan Yaya( China) / 2017 / oil on canvas / 260cm×800cm
Through the combination of historical and realistic themes, the artist of the artwork A New Chapter of the Maritime Silk Road ingeniously places the ancient and modern maritime Silk Roads into the same time and space. Starting from the Quanzhou Port in China, the ships pass along the Shanghai Port to Nara, Japan, to Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, to Brunei, to the Palace of Malaysia, Istanbul of Turkey, Harbor of Iowa of Greece, Venice of Italy, Alexandria Port of Egypt… showing the prosperity of the shipping from the East to the West and the exchange and development of Chinese civilization and world civilizations. In the picture, the ocean, far from the perspective, surrounds Asia, Europe and the African continents. The Indonesian Houses of Parliament, where President Xi Jinping in October 2013 formally proposed with the ASEAN countries to build "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" initiative, is prominent in the picture while the flourishing Gwadar Port in Pakistan and the Convoy of Chinese Navy in the Gulf of Aden are especially emphasized. The artist adopts the unique artistic language of contemporary heavy-color gongbi painting, inherits the magnificent of the landscape, and expands the artistic language of Chinese painting in the performance of the exotic scenery, fully demonstrating the new chapter of the Maritime Silk Road in the 21st Century.
As a large-scale theme-based painting for this year’s Beijing Biennale, the work The New Chapter of the Silk Roadpresents a panoramic view of the new chapter of the ancient Silk Road under the leading of the Belt and Road Initiative advocated by the Chinese government in the 21st century. The distant view presents human geography and natural landscapes, which starts at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, China, all the way across the river, Gobi, snow mountain, desert, grassland until the sea. The route passes though Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, and finally arrives in Rotterdam, Holland, while the whole line is dotted with the symbol of high-speed railway. The middle view presents as fully as possible the major elements of projects along the "Belt and Road", showing in turn the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, "bullet" train, Kanas Thermal Power Plant, Kashgar Western and Central Asian Bazaar for International Trade, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, OECD, Pakistan Transnational Highway, starting point of the Eurasian Continental Bridge, Gwadar Port in Pakistan, Vietnam dam built by China and other important facilities. The China-Europe Train links the close view, including infrastructure workers, University of Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan where President Xi Jinping in September 2013 formally proposed “The Silk Road Economic Belt” initiative, Confucius Institute, border trade transportation, peacekeeping force, Chinese medical team in Africa and so on.
Among the first to comprehend the essence of the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese artists have given a brilliant reply to the theme “The Silk Road and World Civilizations” with works extensive in subject, diverse in form and varied in technique. Under the brush of Chinese artists, be it a bright moon high above the ancient path vibrating with the sound of Sanskrit, or medical aid teams to Africa; be it the mystic Lamp Festival and Shehuo (a kind of folk performance during the Spring Festival)in Kushui County, or micro-life in today’s metropolises; be it “unfettered” and “symbiosis”, or high-speed trains across Eurasia; be it a compass, or a panorama of Maritime Silk Road, all tell the story of mutual exchange and common development as witnessed by the Silk Road, the most antique and long-drawn road in the world. On the site of these works, the charm of ancient path intertwines with the vigor of the age, which generates a tempting aroma permeating into the sky of history, and then into the heart like a fresh wind. In comparison to traditional techniques of representation, it seems that the artists prefer to frame their works as cultural codes so that the symbols, metaphors and allegories overflowing may draw their audience into a realm of meditation.
Among the works from foreign countries, there are masterpieces either showing the splendors of cultural shrines along the Road, or echoing a mental aura of convergence and development with pictures almost abstract. Some are small relishes overflowing with passion, or thought-provoking with poetic faintness. Some artists employ a method similar to Montage which patch and put together the Eastern and Western background, sages or cultural symbols to strike their audience with a sense of vagueness and realness. Some remake classic pictures with slight embellishments for legendary effects. Foreign artists of the 7th Beijing Biennale show many a commendable points in their selection and polishing of artistic language. Not only is there a coexistence of realism and abstraction, but also meaningful attempts at symbolism, collage, cross-category fusion and those beyond the scope of easel art and assimilation of Chinese artistic and cultural elements. Recollection, longing and hope for the spirit of peaceful development are even more keenly felt in works from today’s wartime countries on the ancient Silk Road, like Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
The Symposium on “The Spirit of the Silk Road and International Contemporary Art Creation” Set to Bring Art Exchanges and Collisions across National Borders
Each of the Beijing Biennales has provided an opportunity for academic exchanges in the form of international symposiums, and this year is no exception. The symposium to be held on September 25 this year reflects the Beijing Biennale’s long concern with the global artistic landscape equality. It will also stress the motif of peace and social progress in contemporary art. In the realm of “Silk Road and World Civilization,” this year’s theme, the topics for academic discussion at the symposium include analyzing the exhibitions of the 7th Beijing Biennale, the relationship between the Silk Road and international contemporary art, art creation with specific motifs, and planning and carrying out a major international art event. Members of the curatorial committee, art theorists, artists home and abroad, international curators and head of art institutions around the world as well as other representatives have all been invited to attend. So far, feedback from all parties has been quite active: more than a hundred curators, artists and heads of professional art institutions have submitted papers. The Beijing Biennale will pick the clearly-themed and insightful ones to be discussed during the symposium. Participants are encouraged to deliver impromptu speeches in the symposium’s light yet academically passionate atmosphere. The main symposium will be hosted by renowned art theorist Shao Dazhen who is also the academic counselor for the Beijing Biennale, while members from the curatorial committee, including Wang Yong, Ding Ning and Shang Hui, will chair sub-meetings.
A Collection of Essence: Unique Domestic Array of Contemporary Art Overseas; Generous Donations from the Exhibition’s Artists Contribute to this Biggest and Most Diverse Collection
Initiated in 2002, the Beijing Biennale has developed into the world’s largest biennial exhibition of paintings and sculptures in merely 15 years. A total of nearly 4,000 artists from more than 100 countries of the 5 continents have participated in it with more than 4,000 pieces of exhibits. So far, more than 1,000 artists have been invited to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Biennale or international symposiums, making it the first and only art exhibition with more than 100 participating countries at a single event in the world. The Beijing Biennale has not only become a showcase for the finest contemporary painting and sculpture works, but also the largest international platform that artists from all over the world are eager to uphold and participate in. The Chinese model of Beijing Biennale contributes to the reconstruction of the setup of diverse and complementary contemporary cultures and arts in the world. Since 2003, the Beijing Biennale has cumulatively accepted more than 500 pieces of paintings and sculptures of more than 500 artists from about 60 countries, accounting for 1/8 of the total exhibits of the Beijing Biennale, covering various categories of contemporary paintings and sculptures. These donated works have become the largest contemporary foreign art collection with the highest quality and richest variety, representing to a great extent, the essence of the Beijing Biennale. It is an art treasure that broadens the horizon of the domestic artists and enthusiasts with high researching and displaying value.
In order to avoid this awkward situation of putting these important artworks in the warehouse without people knowing them, as is noted in Bai Juyi’s poem, “collections are lifelong treasures, why waste hiding them in sleeves for three years”, and to achieve a positive social effect, China Artists Association, based on the Beijing Biennale, the “The World Trip of Chinese Fine Arts”, “Paint One Another, Know One Another” and other projects, has launched this special itinerant exhibition of donated works of the past Beijing Biennales to continuously broaden the in-depth international exchanges. On the one hand, it provides both quantity and quality insurance of the exhibits for Chinese and foreign art exchanges. On the other hand, it also plays an irreplaceable role in continuously publicizing the Beijing Biennale and enhancing its world reputation. Of course, the artists themselves have broken through the time limit of the exhibition so that their works can be continuously promoted.
The international tour premiere celebrating the donations received during the Beijing Biennale was successfully held in late October 2016. The donated artworks, shown among the Golden Exhibition Line in the National Museum of Denmark, were reported almost instantly in a lengthy article by the chief correspondent of Xinhua News Agency in Copenhagen, in addition to grabbing the attention of Danish art circles and mainstream media. The article received more than 800,000 clicks in three days. The tour then travelled to Peru, Belgium, Italy, Finland, England, Georgia and elsewhere. The Beijing Biennale this year will receive 76 pieces of artwork by 76 artists from 33 countries encompassing China, Austria, France, Greece, India and Italy. The collection is set for further expansion.
The curatorial committee made several arrangements to make the visit easier. Enlarged introduction notes have two-dimensional codes printed on them that the visitors can swipe to access Chinese and English text descriptions or voice messages. To promote interactions and decorate the gallery into a more artistic art space, the curatorial committee chose Silk Road scenes, pictures of transportation and camel patterns, among others, for the seat covers in the resting section. Some visitors may consider it a pity that touching the exhibition works is forbidden. But now they can interact with the artworks, not just by seeing them, but also by “sitting” on them. This move brings the audience closer to the exhibitions by transforming formidable academic displays into decorations of practical value “on the scene.” The exhibition also opened an “online gallery” that can be viewed via an app, allowing those unable to attend to “visit the exhibition” on their phones. The publishing house of the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press located in England, under the request of the curatorial committee, also published an international version of the Biennale Portfolio to meet growing overseas demand.Such an international publication shall further increase the global outreach of the exhibition.
As required by many visitors, this year’s Beijing Biennale continues to hold “the Beijing Biennale in my eyes” free postcard activity at the beginning or end of the exhibition. Visitors can take a picture with one of their favorite works and have it made into a postcard with prepaid international postage after filling in a small questionnaire. They can send it to any place in the world to share the moment with friends.
As an institutional exhibition, the Beijing Biennale shall continue to hold exhibitions in the future before it can enjoy greater influence in the world. The Venice Biennale has a history of over a hundred years, which contributes to its incompatible authority in global art circles. It is undeniable that we shall continue to host Beijing biennales if we are to boost the influence of Chinese art in the world, given its key role in gaining more say in the field of art internationally. The theme of today’s world is peace and development. Humankind is tied together with a common future through the international community. Based on the information gathered at the last biennale, the exhibition had the most foreign participants from the United States and France. So the exhibition is having an impact on western nations apart from third world countries. As some media have noted, the Beijing Biennale, with its power to alter the Chinese and world art landscape, will serve as an engine in raising artistic influence across national and chronological boundaries. “Appreciating the culture of others as do to one’s own, and the world will become a harmonious whole.” The irreplaceable impact of the Beijing Biennale is yet to be seen as it continues to embrace the future.