An exhibition of shadow arts collected by the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) opened Thursday in Italy's art city Alessandria.
Zhang Jianda (1st L), cultural counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Italy, introduces the shadow arts to the Mayor of Alessandria Piercarlo Fabbio (2nd R) in Alessandria, Italy, April 14, 2011. An exhibition of shadow arts collected by the National Art Museum of China opened Thursday in Italy's Alessandria.
Part of the exchange plan in the ongoing China Culture Year in Italy, the "Playing Shadow Puppet Treasures from the NAMOC collection" displays 340 shadow puppets artworks from the only national museum of fine arts in China, which houses 100,000 pieces art works.
The exhibition highlighted the static beauty of shadow puppets as well as the close relationship between shadow and opera through representative classical shadow puppet plays.
At the opening inside Monferrato historical palace, in the heart of the northern Italian city, the plays fascinated the audience with brilliant colors and interleaving of light and shadows.
Visitors and journalists were also interested in exploring what was going on behind the shadow wall, where all puppet characters, including figures, animals and weapons were controlled and voiced by the Changli Xiangdong Shadow Puppet Troupe of Hebei Province.
"Watching such an astonishing performance for the first time in Italy is a precious opportunity for our citizens," Mayor of Alessandria Piercarlo Fabbio told Xinhua.
The exhibition, which will last till June 30, follows a presentation of the Italian Futurism (a global art movement at the beginning of 20th century) organized last year at the NAMOC.
"Despite its small size, Alessandria has many cultural exchanges with China, which makes me honored," the mayor said.
In fact, Alessandria is renowned for its vivid attention to art, and particularly to contemporary art, which is one of the reasons why the shadow arts exhibition is being held here, the director of NAMOC, Fan Di'an, told Xinhua.
"Shadow plays are an ancient art in China, but to Italians they represent something new, and also modern," Fan said.
There are three main reasons, he added, why the exhibition made the ancient Chinese shadow puppet the cultural ambassador of China as Italy marks the Chinese Culture Year.
"First, the shadow puppet is a precious folk heritage which can disclose to Italian audience the stretching history and culture of China. Secondly, it integrates painting, engraving, opera, performance and other forms of arts into one," he said.
Third, due to its unique aesthetic value, it can be considered a form of "contemporary art", Fan added, noting that, due to visual and sounded performance, shadow puppet can in a sense be seen as a 1,000-year-old pioneer of films.
A couple observed carefully the colorful figures and vivid movement. "Before coming here, I had an idea of what shadow puppets are because I had watched a television program, but I could not imagine they are so colored and bright," said the woman, Ornella.
"Watching the play I could perceive a small part of an immense culture that I want to get closer to. I think shadow arts are a good starting point to deepen my knowledge of China," she added.
(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2011)