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Human-body Art Exhibition Open to All Ages

Standing in front of a picture of a naked female, Yang Guang's mother hesitated as to whether to take the 16-year-old boy to an art exhibition on the human body in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

With more than 130 pieces, the exhibition, which began on April 12, gathered paintings, oil paintings and sculptures, most of which presented models of female bodies to reflect Chinese views on sexuality - a traditional taboo in China.

"The human body is not mysterious and the exhibition aims to display the beauty of the human body as well as providing opportunities for art lovers to exchange views on art and painting," said Liu Rongyan, vice-curator of the Heilongjiang Art Museum, the exhibition sponsor.

Unlike exhibitions on sex or related themes in other cities, there was no sign stating "No youngsters allowed" in front of the exhibition hall.

"More children and teenagers are learning about painting these days, but few have the chance to visit an exhibition like this," Liu said.

Echoing Liu's remarks, young visitors, a large part of whom were middle school or college students, expressed their wish to "improve their painting skills" after viewing the artworks.

However, not every visitor felt at ease at the exhibition. "We noticed that a young man looked around after entering the hall and finally laid his eyes on a sculpture of a male model. He seemed too shy to look at paintings of the female body," a member of the museum staff told Xinhua.

Earlier this month, China's first private sex museum opened in Shanghai and it has had a positive effect sex education for children.

"Today's kids and teenagers have easy access to pictures of the human body on the Internet, but most are pornographic pictures and unsuitable for the healthy development of young people," said Zhang Kun, a sociologist with the Harbin University of Science and Technology.

"Sex education for minors is better than no sex education. It will help to form a healthy and scientific concept on sex and this exhibition is quite necessary and significant," noted Zhang.

(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2006)

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