Tuesday 21 January 2020

China gives us a second chance with art exhibits

Nicola Anderson

AFTER the debacle of the Terracotta Warriors, it is a miracle that China has agreed to lend anything to Ireland ever again.

Back in 1987, six of the artefacts had to be restored after they were damaged by the collapse of scaffolding in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin.

Luckily, the people at the Chester Beatty Library -- not the museum responsible for the breakage -- proved to be pretty persuasive and we were given a second chance.

The Chester Beatty is now playing host to a remarkable exhibition of art from as far back as the 15th century from the world-renowned Shanghai Museum with many masterpieces never seen before outside China.

The exhibition has been a long time coming -- curator Dr Shane McCausland began negotiations in 2004, making several trips backwards and forwards to select pieces and to see it packed up and shipped over.

The result of his labours is 'Telling Images of China' -- a thoughtful display of the precious collection of 38 narrative and figure paintings in a storytelling format with which even the Chinese themselves are greatly impressed.

The director of the Shanghai Museum Chen Xiejun said he hoped the exhibition would advance the understanding of Chinese culture.


Dr McCausland said they had decided to put the exhibition together in this way for the Irish audience because of our traditional great love for storytelling and also because we were familiar with art that has both a visual and a literary aspect to it, he said, citing Louis Le Brocquy's images of Samuel Beckett.

President Mary McAleese, who opened the exhibition last night, said the exhibition was a "singular honour for Ireland" and opened a window for us on "many different Chinas, past and more recent".

She also pointed out that last year saw celebrations for the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and China.

Irish Independent

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