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Ambassador Qu Xing's Remarks at Brussels Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition
2015-07-17 23:45

Your Excellency Mr. Vice Prime Minister Reynders,

Your Excellency Mr. Minister-President Vervoort,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of Brussels Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition. First and foremost, please allow me, on behalf of Chinese Embassy in Belgium, and in my own name, extend warmest congratulations to the successful opening of the exhibition in Brussels.

The past June was a burning hot month for China-Belgium relations, just like the weather in Belgium. His Majesty King Philippe and Her Majesty Queen Mathilde paid a successful state visit to China, which was also their first state visit to a foreign country. Within merely a week, they visited five Chinese cities, and were warmly received in each city they went. During that visit, the two countries signed more than 90 cooperation agreements, which in the coming years will generate fruit of cooperation. On the very second day after H.M. King Philippe concluded his visit to China, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang came to Brussels to attend China-EU Summit and visit Belgium. Despite short time span of the visit, Premier Li Keqiang held fruitful talks with Prime Minister Michel and jointly witnessed the signing of 12 cooperation agreements, the total value of which was worth of 18 billion dollars.

When it comes to the field of arts, exchanges between the two countries are no less exciting. Last week, I attended the opening ceremony of Mons Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition. And today I come to Brussels for another exhibition of the same kind. I am deeply impressed by the fact that this exhibition brings together more than 20 outstanding contemporary Chinese artists who work in different disciplines of art. I also notice that the organizers gave the exhibition a most interesting name "Chinese Utopia’s Revisited - the Elephants." Now I’d like to share with you my observation of this name in three points.

First, the name is about "Chinese utopia." As we know, Confucius, the Chinese philosopher in ancient times, brought up the idea of a world of grand concordance in his Book of Rites about 2000 years ago. According to the book, Confucius aspired to build a world in which “men do not regard as parents only their own parents, nor do they treat as children only their own children. Provision is secured for the aged till death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up for the young. Helpless widows and widowers, orphans and the lonely, as well as the sick and the disabled, are well cared for”, a world in which there is no need for people to shut their outer doors as robbers, thieves and other lawless men no longer exist; a society where the moral standard is high, and lost articles are always returned. This idea concurred with what was put forward in Thomas Moore's Utopia and Plato's The Republic as they all reflected people’s common aspiration for a better world of equality. In modern times, especially after the Opium War in 1840, China began to experience cultural collision with outside world. The Chinese intellectual elites began to realize that China was facing two-level of crisis, i.e. whether the national would survive, and whether the Chinese culture would survive. At that time, many talented people in China such as Kang Youwei and Yan Fu began to seek building a better world from a new perspective. That is, to achieve equality and common wealth within China through moderate reforms, and relations based on equal footing with foreign powers. However, their efforts of moderate reforms failed. Later, Tan Sitong and Sun Yat-sen, among other Chinese nationalist intellectuals adopted a more radical approach, which was to build a world of equality and common wealth by overthrowing the Qing government. Their endeavor exerted great influence on China’s development later in history. This is the history of Chinese utopia.

Second, the name is about "revisit." In today’s China, Chinese people have come a long way in their pursuit of a world of equality and common wealth. Along with China’s great improvement of economic strength, a relationship of equality has been established between China and major countries in the world. In the context of globalization, China and other countries in the world learn from each other through frank exchanges. And such is the case with arts. The result of such exchanges is to produce a kind of "grand concordance" in the field of arts. A moment ago, I was given a tour to the exhibition, and I share with the organizers the same view that today's Chinese art is no longer merely about brush painting, porcelain or silk painting. In fact, judging from the work of art itself, it would be next to impossible to tell from which country the work comes. I believe that this is another form of harmony, in which the Chinese artists and their foreign peers seek common forms of artistic expression.

Third, the name is also about "the elephants." Elephants are giant animals that are too large to be ignored. Likewise, China is too large a country and undertaking too many large changes to be ignored. And so will be Chinese contemporary art, as too large influence is being made by Chinese artists, who learnt from the world, and took the courage to break with tradition and be creative. Their work is a dialogue between Chinese and Western cultures, and will be beneficial for both sides. It also reminds me of last year’s exhibition in Beijing with the name of "MASTER MOULD & COPY ROOM". From traditional Chinese point of view, master mould is a token of respect for the master. It is also an effective way of learning. But to the western point of view, imitation must give way to innovation. What a different understanding between east and west! And how interesting! The exhibition in Beijing last year was a great success, because it inspired people to realize that “master mould” and “copy room” are two sides of the same coin, the coin being the heritage and innovation of art. Therefore, all agree that there is no solution, because the problem does not exist. I wish and believe that the exhibition in Brussels today will achieve the same success, and leave an indelible mark in this European capital of art.

Thank you.

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