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Exhibition shows how masters helped Western art develop

China Daily| Updated: August 2, 2023 L M S


Visitors take a photo of Vincent van Gogh's canvas painting L'Arlesienne (Portrait of Madame Ginoux) at an ongoing exhibition held at the Meet You Museum in Beijing.[Photo by Li Na/For China Daily]

Monet, Van Gogh and the Masters of Modernism — Masterpieces from the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma opened to the public on July 16 at the Meet You Museum in Beijing, with 47 authentic works from 36 masters of modernism on display.

The works at the exhibition span from the 1860s to the 1970s, and serve as a bridge for cultural exchange and mutual learning, allowing visitors to explore a century of development in Western art.

Standing in front of Vincent van Gogh's canvas painting L'Arlesienne (Portrait of Madame Ginoux), Wang Chunyuan, a doctoral student from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, was deeply touched by the "vigorous vitality" contained in the seemingly calm picture.

The figure in the picture is Van Gogh's former landlord. Van Gogh took her as the subject of his last group of six works before he died. Currently on display is one of the works drawing on Paul Gauguin's pastel painting, which Van Gogh mentioned multiple times in his letters.

With beautiful water lilies spreading out across the lake and their forms blending into the misty reflection, the entire picture creates a hazy and poetic atmosphere. French painter Claude Monet's Pink Water Lilies undoubtedly became the most popular work at the exhibition.

As one of the most important representatives of Impressionism, Monet created more than 2,000 oil paintings in his life. The Water Lilies is one of Monet's most representative series of paintings, showcasing perfectly the beauty of light, shadow, and color in the water. The Pink Water Lilies is an early work in the series, where Monet focused on a small area of the pond.

What impressed Stefano Silvani, director of the Asian exhibition business of Mondo Mostre in Italy, was the hydro paint on canvas with cut work Spatial Concept, Waiting. This work reminds Silvani of Chinese calligraphy.

Lucio Fontana drew a very simple line on the painting with a knife, while Chinese calligraphy also uses very simple strokes to display powerful messages, he says.

Silvani believes that many of the works exhibited can provide a glimpse into a century of development in Western art.

"The artist performs only one part of the creative process. The onlooker completes it, and it is the onlooker who has the last word." The quote from Marcel Duchamp, noted at the exhibition, sets out the mission of exhibitors.

Not only do we need artists to create, but we also need to present the works created by artists to a bigger audience, says Silvani, who says he hopes that the audience will enjoy this exhibition.

The exhibition shows modernist artists who broke through the limitations of media and actively tried various types of painting, sculpture, and photography, among others, presenting diverse styles.

Duchamp's work Porte-chapeau attracted many viewers.

The ordinary hat stand, used in daily life, is hung in the air, casting a shadow like an octopus in the light. Duchamp attempted to bring art to the level of ordinary life and to raise the discussion of "what art is" from a cognitive perspective.

"People may go abroad to appreciate arts and cultures around the world, but the most convenient way is to introduce overseas works to domestic communities. However, some collections and works cannot be moved, so it is not easy for an important artwork to be exhibited in another city or country. We should cherish this opportunity," says Wang Chunchen, professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and curator of the Meet You Museum.

The Meet You Museum brand has established six venues in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Nanjing and Hangzhou since 2021. It has also established cooperation with hundreds of domestic and overseas cultural institutions, including several well-known Italian museums and art galleries.

The exhibition will run until Oct 22.

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