When my partner Gavin showed me pictures of art from galleries of 798 precinct in Beijing I had a fit of jealousy. Pictures made me see the intriguing works that provide a bridge between two cultures, which for so many years (since the decline of the Silk Road) have been far apart.
Art always precedes historical events, the artists acting as antennas can sense the mood of history and in their works you can feel the coming of the future. So through these photos I had felt an interesting ‘fusion’ between Chinese traditional art and western influences.
Through this fusion it is as if suddenly the East has become familiar and open and we can commence a dialogue with an entire continent. After all, China is still a blind spot for many of us who have not ventured there and prejudices cover every possibility to understand the artistic ferment that shakes this huge country.
798 is the name of the Beijing neighbourhood where the former factories and generating plants have been turned into workshops and art galleries. Here you can find artists and artisans who engage in very different styles producing works for sale or just pleasure, for decoration, museums, fashion. From those who religiously follow tradition to those who experience new forms and new visual languages.
A selection of 34 works by 32 artists in the exhibition arrived in Europe and one of its stops was Rome where we could view the works in the beautiful surroundings of the Italian Geographical Society of Villa Celimontana. Wandering through the rooms full of books and past geographic (& artistic) history, the works stood out in a natural way, as if to bring those books to the true meaning of geography: the knowledge of distant countries and peoples.
The paintings and the modern installations were confronted by the past and the result was a synthesis of human history: art unites beyond all temporal and spatial boundary.
We sought to interview the curator, and we hope to meet him to know something more of the individual artists. In some works the figure of the woman was taking such a profound role in relation to motherhood and links with the infinite that I would like to deepen our knowledge of the artist and his slot in Chinese society.
More such cultural bridging events are needed to decrease the impact of the force-function media and increase understanding between two cultures, Chinese and Italian, that definitely left a great mark in human history – from the earliest Chinese ocean travels, the adventures of Marco Polo, the travels on the Silk Road, our two societies have brought together art and engineering for the benefit of our peoples.
The painting in photo is ‘One Love’ by Wu Mingzhong.