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       Updated:2018-02-26      Text:Large /  Medium  /  Small  


Sydney and Yunnan in 1894 is an oil work by Australian artist Shen Jiawei. 


Two major works on the Belt and Road Initiative will be on display at the upcoming Beijing International Art Biennale. Lin Qi reports.

Last year, five Chinese painters were commissioned by the China Artists Association to execute two works for the upcoming seventh Beijing International Art Biennale.

Zheng Baizhong, a Fuzhouborn artist who specializes in the traditional ink-and-wash painting, has done a 6-meter-long scroll called A New Chapter of the Maritime Silk Road using the time-honored blue-green landscape. And he uses the gongbi technique to depict the evolution of East-West sea links.

The painting juxtaposes ancient Chinese merchant ships at important stops along the Maritime Silk Road with modern Chinese naval fleets escorting ships in the waters of the Gulf of Aden.

The other four oil painters produced The New Chapter of the Silk Road, an 8-meter-long work on the latest developments sparked by China's Belt and Road Initiative.

It portrays a panoramic view of the changes in transportation modes between China and Europe-scenes of merchants in ancient times and the China Railway Express that carries freight between Chinese and European cities.

The two works will be on display at the National Art Museum of China during the Beijing International Art Biennale that will be held from Sunday to Oct 15.

The China Artists Association, which is the nation's top organization for fine art, will showcase 567 artists from more than 100 countries, at the biennale.

The first event in 2003 featured 400 works by artists from 40 countries.

Liu Dawei, who chairs the China Artists Association, says the first event was not easy because it was held in the immediate aftermath of the lethal SARS outbreak in the country.

The seventh event will showcase mainly paintings and sculptures that are on the theme of this year, the Silk Road and World's Civilizations.

Xu Li, the vice-chairman of the China Artists Association, says that since its launch, the biennale has been committed to cater to Chinese audiences, and therefore it highlights developments in painting and sculpture, the two major art forms that are favored by local viewers.

"We have also included some installations and videos in the last two editions of BIAB because essentially, the event underpins openness, inclusiveness and diversity," says Xu.

He adds the BIAB is all embracing also because it gives space to not only countries where art is booming and highly commercialized, but also to countries that are much less developed but want their artists' voices to be heard internationally.

He says that, for example, the upcoming exhibition will display works by artists from countries along the ancient Silk Road and now in chaos, such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

He says their paintings are focused on families who are being ripped apart by conflicts, and they pay homage to mothers who bravely protect their children.

"The works stress even more on subjects like peace and expectations that are at the heart of Silk Road spirit," says Xu.

The 600 works that have been selected for the event were from more than 10,000 applicants.

BIAB will hold six special shows this year, including four country shows that feature the art of Georgia, Indonesia, Mongolia and Greece.

"Chinese audiences have seen a lot of art from western Europe and North America. So, we hope that these four shows will increase their knowledge of less familiar cultures," says Xu.

"Many might have traveled to countries such as Indonesia and Greece, but fine art will provide them with new perspectives."

One show will look at the influence of Italian Renaissance painter Tintoretto (1518-94) on contemporary African artists.

Xu says several African artists will be exhibited at BIAB for the first time.

Another show will be a selection of artworks exhibited at previous editions of BIAB, which have been donated to the China Artists Association.

Tao Qin, the association's deputy secretary-in-general, says BIAB is not a commercial event and that the displayed works are returned to their creators, but many artists have donated their works to the association in the past.

The association took 40 Chinese works from its collection to European cities, including Helsinki and London, three months ago.

The works address universal issues such as conflicts, environmental protection and digital living.