Belgian art lovers get a rare chance of watching some of the most precious collections of China's top museum when they were put on display in a Brussels art center on Wednesday.
Eighty-five paintings by Chinese masters from the 15th to the 20th century, drawn from the collection of the Palace Museum in Beijing, stood side by side with 92 works by Belgian painters during the same period, such as Pieter Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens, in an unique exhibition in the Brussels Center for Fine Arts.
The exhibition, the "Forbidden Empire," was designed so that visitors can observe both the relationships and the differences between the two groups' painters in terms of themes, techniques, and visions, said Yu Hui, the Chinese curator of the show.
He said that although Chinese ancient art works had been exhibited in many countries, such parallel presentation was unprecedented.
As oil painting on canvas came into an interesting confrontation with works on paper and silk from the Ming and Qing dynasties and from the early days of the Chinese Republic, viewers can get a better understanding of the two nations and their civilizations by comparing their distinct cultures and their conceptions of the world.
Yu, who heads the research department of the Palace Museum, said it was also the first time that the museum organized an exhibition in Europe that shows paintings covering more than 500 years of history.
A majority of the works on show had never been displayed in Europe and have high artistic value, he said, naming items like Clouded Mountains by Shi Tao from the Qing Dynasty, and Mandarin Ducks and Lotus Flowers by Chen Hongshou in the Ming Dynasty.
The show, which will run through May 6, was a co-production of the Palace Museum and the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels, with the participation of a number of Belgian and foreign museums, including the Albertina in Vienna, Austria and the Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The exhibition will travel to the Palace Museum in June.
Bert Anciaux, cultural minister of the Flanders region, Belgium, said the show was another example of intercultural cross-fertilization between Flanders and China, at a time when China's artistic significance increases.
The Flemish region supports exchanges and the development of networks with China in the fields of arts and heritage, he said.
The Palace Museum, situated in the heart of the Forbidden City in Beijing, is one of the most prestigious institutions in China where more than one million of treasures of Chinese art were conserved.
(Xinhua News Agency February 16, 2007)