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Sino-Greek cultural exchanges continue

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-12-13 09:29

A bronze statuette of Mahakala is seen at the exhibition, From the Forbidden City: The Imperial Apartments of Qianlong, at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, in September. [Photo/Xinhua]

Greece's National Museum of Contemporary Art, or EMST, in Athens has been building new bridges of intercultural dialogue with China as part of a wider Sino-Greek effort to bring the two countries and their people closer, the museum's director Katerina Koskina said in a recent interview.

Last Tuesday, during the opening of an exhibition of EMST's newest acquisitions of the past two years, Koskina talked about the collaboration launched last year with the National Art Museum of China, or NAMOC, thanks to the support of the culture ministries in Athens and Beijing and the exchanges of museum exhibits.

She also expressed hope that ties between Greece and China in the field of art could deepen in the future.

"Last week, EMST inaugurated in Beijing at the National Art Museum of China a very important exhibition, which includes more than 80 works of art by Greek and international artists," Koskina says referring to the exhibition, which is entitled In the Beginning Was the Word. Concepts-Images-Script.

Forty Greek and foreign artists are participating with 80 works that belong to EMST's permanent collection. The exhibition runs through mid-January 2019, as part of the 2017-18 year of cultural exchanges between Greece and China.

"It is a great opportunity, because the dialogue between such important ancient civilizations that grew together and today are able to reinforce that old dialogue, is really amazing," she stresses.

"This exhibition is a kind of return as last year EMST hosted a very important exhibition on Xieyi (freehand brush work) painting and masterpieces from the NAMOC collections in Athens which was the starting point of a, hopefully, long lasting friendship and cooperation in the cultural field between Greece and China," Koskina says.

The exhibition Chinese Xieyi: Masterpieces from the National Art Museum of China ran from September to November 2017, and received a warm welcome from Greek audiences.

"The reception from the Athenian audience was very warm. There were excited comments about this exhibition and we had many visitors," Anna Mykoniati, EMST's curator, says.

Explaining the idea behind the exhibition, which traveled to China, she says EMST chose writing and script in art as a main theme, because China has a great tradition in calligraphy and this is a theme that the Chinese audience can relate to, while also getting an idea about the Greek contemporary art scene.

"The Chinese audience was very open to the artwork, because it is very contemporary and the collection of NAMOC is more traditional, more painting," she says.

She says both China and Greece have huge civilizations behind them. "As far as I can tell from my experience in Beijing, the Chinese have a deep respect and admiration for the Greek civilization and I think that works both ways. It is the same for Greeks too," she underlines.

EMST is one of the partners in the International Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries involving the countries that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The alliance was established this summer in Beijing.

"We are very hopeful that this will lead to a future collaboration with China and other countries along the Silk Road," Mykoniati says.

Greek artist Alexandros Georgiou, who is participating in both exhibitions currently hosted at EMST and NAMOC, has no doubt that Sino-Greek intercultural dialogue has much to offer.

"I always learn something new when I look at Chinese art and it is never what I thought it is going to be. So I think it comes from a culture that, in a way, can relate to ours by being so different, but shedding a different light on subjects that we also care about, but never thought of in the way that Chinese artists do," he says.

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