art in china pt 1 (dedicated to amelia monroe)
since i’ve been back, one of the most asked questions about china is, art. well amelia, in the next few blogs, i will look at a few art related sojourns i’ve had. as usual, these blogs will be mainly image-driven. may you find something to inspire you, fascinate you or at least pique your interest.
tianjin, is not noted for its art. its an old city with lots of history but its mainly about commerce. however the government sponsored museum is a wonderful edifice, large and modern and wonderful spaces. it has been described as looking like a large swan.
its actually 2 buildings and has a huge collection of ancient chinese arts (calligraphy, jadeware, jewelry, bronzeware, ceramics etc) as well as art depicting chinese history.
the day we went, there was a special exhibition about the horses… the historical importance of the horse thru out chinese history.
since its domestication over 5,000 years ago, the horse has been a very significant animal, both as a form of transport and in military campaigns, and it has been said that the horse ‘.. has been an integral figure in the creation and survival of the middle kingdom’. even today, you will see re-enactments of famous battles featuring the prowess of the riders on trained war horses. the role of the horse in china makes for interesting reading, as the horse is not merely a convenient traveling tool.
the horse is also linked to chinese mythology as it is associated with the powerful and legendary creatures- dragons. from the days of early china, horses and carriages were entombed with the owners because it was believed that the owners would need his horses to carry him during the next life.
one of the buildings sometimes carry modern art but this wasnt so when i visited. dawn on the other hand said that when she first went in 2013, there was a contemporary exhibition… and some of those pieces turned up in art basel miami in december 2013.
when i went early this year, the exhibitions on were pretty much the standard fare of more traditional chinese art. it should be said that chinese jadeware and ceramics are legendary and can be very expensive on the world market. both have a long history in chinese culture.
jade was at one time, very important in death ceremonies where often rich and famous men would be buried in jade suits. jade artifacts still survive from before the shang dynasty (2000 years bc).
but chinese traditional art is not limited to the above.
the museum tends to attract large crowds especially on weekends, and entry is free… but one has to get tickets to get in.
next, amelia, i’ll look at the 798 district in beijing