National Art Museum of China exhibit shows off the best of BRICS

By Luo Yunzhou Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/15 18:38:40

A landscape painting by Indian painter Bireswar Sen Photo: Courtesy of Yang Zi

Special Exhibition of BRICS Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries at the National ArtMuseum. Photos: Courtesy of Yang Zi

While BRICS has become a familiar concept in China, the alliance of five major emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - is introducing something that is sure to capture the public's interest. On Thursday, the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) hosted a major forum, Uniqueness and Convergence: Forum of BRICS Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries, which brought together the directors of national art museums and galleries from the five countries to discuss the current and future development of BRICS art.

Lasting two days, the forum aimed to promote mutual understanding through cultural and artistic exchanges among BRICS countries. 

Keeping with the spirit of the forum, the Special Exhibition of BRICS Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries kicked off the next day. Scheduled to come to an end on Sunday, the exhibition displays the representative works of art from BRICS countries, making it without a doubt a major cultural feast for visitors.

Cultural bridges

Just few hours after the opening of the new exhibition, the hall was completely packed. Among them was Adwaita Garanayak, the director general of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in India, who had taken the time to walk around during a short break from the forum. 

The first work to catch Adwaita's eye was a two-meter tall group photo in the center of the exhibition hall. In the photo, the five representatives of major BRICS art institutions stand together holding hands. Seeing himself in the life-size photo, Adwaita kindly asked others to take a photo as he posed in front of himself.

Adwaita's excitement was clear as he toured the exhibition, closely examining the art on display with a magnifying glass.

"This is my first time in China," Adwaita told the Global Times after snapping a photo of an Indian landscape painting. 

"I have so many expectations of China and also I have found so many connections between China and India, like Buddhism. It is a kind of art coming from India."

After a short conversation with the Global Times, Adwaita continued his own adventure through the exhibition hall, appreciating the Indian landscape paintings from well-known artist Bireswar Sen (1897-1974), who is considered one of the most prominent landscape artists in modern Indian art.

Also walking around the exhibition was Wendy Black, the curator of the South Africa section of the exhibit.

"I think it is great," said Black, also curator of the Iziko Museum of South Africa.

The South Africa section had numerous archaeological discoveries as well as recent sculptures, paintings and woodcuts on display, forming an impressive fusion of ancient and modern art.

"They [the organizers of the exhibition] wanted to have a unique thesis that showcases each country, so as the South African curator, I decided on some archaeological or historical objects that described ancient art," Black explained.

"We wanted to express some of the oldest art in the world, and some of our contemporary and modern art that uses all these ideas," she noted, explaining the choice to fuse the past and present in one exhibition.

Room for improvement

Visitors to the exhibition weren't limited to those taking part in the forum, as a number of young visitors were also making their way around the displays.

"It is quite nice in my opinion," said Ma Junfeng, a young man living in Beijing.

"This is a good opportunity to appreciate the most representative art from every BRICS country without even going abroad, which is fantastic!" he said while carefully examining the collections from Russia.

"As a tour guide, I don't have much time to visit exhibitions. Fortunately, I noticed this one on the official NAMOC WeChat account and immediately came over."

Though Ma said he found the art on display very pleasing to the eye, he found getting a deeper understanding more difficult since there was only limited information accompanying the works.

"I think there are several places that can be improved. For example, the explanations are far too short," Ma noted.

He noted that as someone new to art, he was really eager to learn more about the collection and also the stories behind the works themselves.

"It would be great if they could provide a QR code you could scan to get more information, like other galleries do," Ma said, comparing the exhibition to others he has been to.

"I can read more information by just scanning the QR code with my phone [at other places]."

Despite these flaws, the exhibition has proved quite popular as the gallery halls were filled with numerous visitors.

This popularity gives the curators a sense of achievement.

Noticing the many visitors gathered in front of the South African section, Black couldn't help but smile.

"I hope that they appreciate and can learn a little bit more about African art," she said.
Newspaper headline: Art Allies

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