Renowned Aussie Artist Backs Beijing Bid by Donating Painting

One day ahead of a crucial assessment by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) evaluation commission, Beijing received a special message from award-winning Australian artist Charles Billich who donated his latest work to the bidding city Sunday.

The 2.8-meter high and 1.8-meter wide painting, "Beijing Millennium Cityscape", will be hung on the walls of the Presentation Hall in Beijing Hotel where the IOC inspectors are expected to stay from February 19 to 25.

"First of all, I'd like to show the world through this painting Beijing's preparedness for hosting the 2008 Olympic Games. It's going to be the vision aid for the IOC people." Croatian-born Billich said.

Depicting Beijing's past, present and future on three levels on the canvas, the painting also contains a fair amount of humor. The famed clay ancient warriors, one of his major metaphors in the picture, are brought to life by the surrealist artist, performing modern Olympic sports under the walls of the Forbidden City.

"There's a lot of fun in it," said Billich, who was named the Sports Artist of the Year 2000 by the prestigious American Sports Academy.

The 67-year-old Australian told the reporters that he stayed up to 4 o'clock this morning so as to complete this piece of art in time.

"I really hate it now, " Billich quipped. "because I didn't sleep last night painting it."

The painting mission was entrusted by the city government of Canberra, a sister city of Beijing, to Billich, who was the Official Artist of the Sydney 2000 Games.

"The bigness of the city was the major challenges I've got to overcome," he said." There're too many centers but I've to do a very organized painting."

Referring to his work as a piece of information rather than a piece of art, Billich noted that it tells many stories besides its functional purposes.

The most significant message is that China is welcoming the world with open hands, he said.

"I fully support Beijing's Olympic bid, " he said. "I hope, well, I'm personally sure Beijing will host the 2008 Olympics."

The world-renowned artist promised another cityscape picture for Beijing -- only after July 13, when the IOC announces the winner city for hosting the 2008 Games.

"It would be called 'Beijing Victory'", he said.

(People's Daily 02/19/2001)

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