Art gives young Latin Amer­i­cans a deeper look at to­day’s China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE | CULTURE - By XIN­HUA in Mex­ico City

These ex­changes have met all ex­pec­ta­tions and even sur­passed them.” Tan­nia Luna, ex­pert in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Mex­ico’s Na­tional Au­tonomous Uni­ver­sity

One of Mex­ico City’s most ven­er­a­ble mu­se­ums on Fri­day in­vited the pub­lic to a game of jianzi, a tra­di­tional Chi­nese na­tional sport known in English as Chi­nese hacky sack.

“Come this week­end,” the San Ilde­fonso Mu­seum said to its Twit­ter fol­low­ers. “We chal­lenge you to par­tic­i­pate in the ori­en­tal game jianzi, every Satur­day at 1 pm.”

Kick­ing a col­or­ful and feath­ered shut­tle­cock in the air with­out the use of hands is a pop­u­lar pas­time in China, but in Mex­ico it is a rare sight, or at least used to be one be­fore the 2016 Year of China-Latin Amer­ica Cul­tural Ex­change.

Over the past year, Latin Amer­i­cans have had the chance to ap­pre­ci­ate Chi­nese art, mu­sic, dance, op­eras and even recre­ational games like jianzi.

The San Ilde­fonso, which is host­ing one of the year’s land­mark ex­hi­bi­tions, Mas­ter­pieces from the Na­tional Art Mu­seum of China, is also of­fer­ing a series of talks on var­i­ous as­pects of Chi­nese cul­ture.

In Oc­to­ber, Mex­i­can ar­chae­ol­o­gists un­cov­ered thou­sands of frag­ments of a 400-year-old ship­ment of Chi­nese “ex­port-qual­ity porce­lain” long buried in the Pa­cific port city of Aca­pulco, re­veal­ing the rich his­tory of ties be­tween China and Latin Amer­ica.

The Year of China-Latin Amer­ica Cul­tural Ex­change in­tro­duced a new and mod­ern China to younger Latin Amer­i­cans.

“As you wan­der through the first rooms, you re­al­ize that Chi­nese con­tem­po­rary art is not re­ally how you had pic­tured it,” Mex­ico’s monthly life­style mag­a­zine Gatopardo writes of Mas­ter­pieces.

Wu Weis­han, a sculp­tor and di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Art Mu­seum of China, says the ex­hibits show­case “the most rep­re­sen­ta­tive works by the best artists of con­tem­po­rary China”.

“China’s fine arts draw ex­pe­ri­ence from Western arts in the search for trans­for­ma­tion, but they also in­herit tra­di­tion,” says Wu.

“What Chi­nese and Mex­i­can cul­tures have in com­mon is that both are pur­su­ing in­no­va­tion while try­ing to pre­serve tra­di­tion. That prac­tice cre­ates a vir­tu­ous artis­tic en­vi­ron­ment.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs through Feb 19, also fea­tures the high­lights of the NAMOC’s col­lec­tion, which in­cludes such tra­di­tional folk arts as in­tri­cate shadow pup­pets and pa­per cutouts.

Mas­ter­pieces, the mag­a­zine Gatopardo says, of­fers “a unique op­por­tu­nity to see a col­lec­tion of art­work that helps to stop stereo­typ­ing a cul­ture and an era ... as well as an op­por­tu­nity to strengthen the union be­tween two cul­tures, as Wu said.”

As part of this year’s ac­tiv­i­ties, art and artists trav­eled in both di­rec­tions. They brought Latin Amer­i­can art to the Chi­nese cities of Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Shen­zhen, and the prov­inces of Jiangsu and Guang­dong. And they took Chi­nese art to such coun­tries as Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Ar­gentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Costa Rica, Peru and Mex­ico.

Tan­nia Luna, an ex­pert in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Mex­ico’s Na­tional Au­tonomous Uni­ver­sity, says the Year of China-Latin Amer­ica Cul­tural Ex­change has strength­ened the friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two re­gions and ush­ered in a new and more fruit­ful phase of bi­lat­eral ties.

“These ex­changes have met all ex­pec­ta­tions and even sur­passed them,” says Luna, and as a re­sult “this new China-Latin Amer­ica re­la­tion­ship goes beyond po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic ne­go­ti­a­tions”.

This dy­namic ex­change is poised to con­tinue.

To cel­e­brate 45 years of diplo­matic ties, 2017 has been de­clared as the Year of Chi­nese Cul­ture in Mex­ico, fea­tur­ing a packed cal­en­dar of events and cross-cul­tural ex­changes.


The China Na­tional Tra­di­tional Or­ches­tra holds a con­cert in Mex­ico City ear­lier this month as part of the Year of Chi­nese Cul­ture in Mex­ico.

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