Zimbabwe's stone sculptures, Tanzania's "Aiduadu-tinggatingga" paintings, Zambia's wooden color sculptures and Botswana's oil painting. It is all on show at the National Museum of China in Beijing, and it all made Tang Yinchang reluctant to leave.
Tang, 66, a retired worker from an international trading company in the Chinese capital, said the artworks on display made him feel close to the African continent, where he used to travel on business.
"Frankly speaking, I know little about art," Tang told China Daily. "But I love African carvings and sculpture for their succinct lines and bold forms carrying powerful vitality and the rhythmic pulse of life."
"Each time I traveled to African countries on business, I would bring some artefact home for my collection," Tang said.
That is why Tang, braving the chilly autumn wind blowing through Beijing, brought his wife to the museum to watch the exhibition of "Select Artworks from Africa" yesterday.
The exhibition, which is part of activities related to the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation closed yesterday, will run until next Sunday.
On display are more than 300 artworks featuring woodcarvings, bronze and stone sculptures, paintings, pottery and ceramic works, as well as straw-woven wares from more than 20 African countries, such as Egypt, Botswana, Ethiopia and Cape Verde.
Most of the exhibits come from private collectors and museums in China. There are also treasures from African museums and embassies in Beijing.
Coupled with the artworks is an exhibition of currencies and stamps of African countries at the museum.
African culture is one of the most important parts of world civilization, but Chinese people know very little about Africa, Cheng Hui, owner of Touch Africa, an African artworks dealership in Beijing.
"The Beijing Summit and the art show provide a good opportunity for more people to learn about the continent," he said.
According to the staff of the museum, since the exhibition opened last Thursday more than 200 people have come to visit.
Lesiga P. Segola, head of art for the Botswana National Museum, said cultural cooperation is a very good exercise between China and Botswana.
"We learn about the culture, the craft production and the architecture. We're bringing our art to China, and maybe in two or three years, China will bring its art to Botswana," Segola said.
It is his first visit to Beijing, and Segola said he was planning to visit 798 art districts and see different artworks and artists.
"I hope we can sit down with the artists and try to see how we can start to work together," he said. "We want to invite Chinese contemporary artists to show their works in Botswana, and have some of our artists work with certain galleries here."
This sort of thing is what universal friendship is about, Segola said. "From my perspective, it's very interesting when you can work with people from very far away, with different cultures, and exchange works."
In the past 50 years since China established diplomatic ties with African countries, there has been a vigorous development of China-Africa cultural exchanges, which has played a unique role in promoting Sino-African friendship.
China has entered into 62 inter-governmental agreements on cultural exchanges and cooperation with 45 African countries. The two sides have organized over 200 cultural exchange delegations and hosted hundreds of cultural or art exchanges.
(China Daily November 6, 2006)