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  • Apr 08, 2024

New Meets Old at the China Pavilion for the 60th Venice Biennale

Installation view of ZHU JINSHI’s Du Fu Tower, 2023, xuan paper, bamboo, cotton thread, steel frame, LED light strips, 8.5 × 3.5 m at the Chengdu Biennale 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Chengdu Biennale.

The China Pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale announced its theme as “Atlas: Harmony in Diversity.” The exhibition will feature historical paintings as well as artworks by seven contemporary artists. The exhibition is co-curated by artist-curator Wang Xiaosong, a professor at the Zhejiang University, and Jiang Jun, curatorial member at the 7th Chengdu Biennale and the Guangzhou Triennial 2023. 

The exhibition is divided into two sections. The first, titled “Collect,” presents digital documentation of 100 ancient Chinese paintings that are currently held overseas, taken from a 19-year-long research project conducted by the Zhejiang University and the Zhejiang Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage that has catalogued more than 12,400 early cultural treasures.

The second section, “Translate,” elaborates on the idea of dissemination and the inheritance of the ancient pictorial tradition. Curators will showcase seven series of artworks responding to the ancient paintings in the previous section, each created by a contemporary artist, including interdisciplinary artist Che Jianquan, sculptor Jiao Xingtao, and Wang Shaoqiang, director of Guangdong Museum of Art. Zhu Jinshi will contribute his architectural column of rice paper Du Fu Tower (2023), named after a Tang Dynasty poet and created for the Chengdu Biennale in 2023.

As in the previous edition, the Pavilion theme was inspired by a Chinese character. This year alludes to the character ji, which bears meanings such as the verbs “to collect” or “to converge,” and the nouns “atlas” or “integration.” Suggested by the curators, the concept of collecting and compiling art or cultural heritage into documentation is connected to an “exhibition” as it “naturally implies a purpose to exhibit, disseminate, and spread.”

The 60th Venice Biennale opens to the public on April 20 and runs through November 24, 2024.

Arphy Li is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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