Artis­tic ex­hibit

You can visit Michelangelo’s David at the Bird’s Nest

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIN QI

Ital­ian artist and art his­to­rian Gior­gio Vasari (1511-74) pub­lished one of Michelangelo’s two bi­ogra­phies dur­ing the Floren­tine artist’s life­time. He is also known for writ­ing other artists’ bi­ogra­phies.

Although he was crit­i­cized for fa­vor­ing Floren­tine artists in his writ­ings, most agree that his com­ments don’t exaggerate the sta­tus of David in art his­tory.

The orig­i­nal 5-me­ter-high statue of David is on dis­play at the Gallery of the Acad­emy of Florence. But a re­pro­duc­tion of the same size is now on show at the Bird’s Nest Cul­ture Cen­ter, at Bei­jing’s Na­tional Sta­dium, the main venue for the 2008 Sum­mer Olympics.

It is the cen­ter­piece of The Di­vine Michelangelo Art Ex­hi­bi­tion, a show which runs through Oct 10.

The show fea­tures copies of the Re­nais­sance man’s most cel­e­brated works and also his ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs.

In ad­di­tion to David, the re­pro­duc­tions on show in­clude The Pity, an­other sig­na­ture work, which de­picts a seated Mary hold­ing the body of Je­sus on her lap.

The orig­i­nal is housed at St. Pe­ter’s Basil­ica in Vat­i­can City.

Michelangelo com­pleted the two works be­fore he reached the age of 30.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also has re­pro­duc­tions from an­other body of work — the fres­coes on the Sis­tine Chapel ceil­ing. The scenes in­clude The Cre­ation of Adam.

The re­pro­duc­tions are painted by An­to­nio de Vito, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s Ital­ian cu­ra­tor and also a fresco painter based in Florence.

De Vito, who has also done copies of Michelangelo’s sketches and draw­ings, says that the idea be­hind the ex­hi­bi­tion is to pro­vide a look at the artist, so that when view­ers fin­ish their tour, they have a ba­sic idea of Michelangelo’s great- ness as a sculp­tor, a painter, an ar­chi­tect and a poet.

“For Michelangelo, it was an easy job to cre­ate a com­par­i­son of light and shadow in his out­put,” he says.

“That is why he was able to show such vivid faces in his sculp­tures and paint­ings. He con­veyed the power of these fig­ures, rather than sim­ply fo­cus­ing on sculpt­ing or paint­ing the out­lines.”

A stu­dio has also been re-cre­ated at the ex­hi­bi­tion to show how Michelangelo sculpted and painted. De Vito will demon­strate in the stu­dio how a fresco was painted in 15 th-cen­tury Italy.

“As an artist and scholar, I needed to un­der­stand his mind and how his hands worked.

“As I recre­ated these works I came to bet­ter un­der­stand how Michelangelo was dif­fer­ent from other artists.”

He adds that the ex­hi­bi­tion also shows view­ers the hard­ships Michelangelo faced when paint­ing the Sis­tine Chapel ceil­ing.

“Do­ing a fresco like that is com­pli­cated be­cause painters have to ex­e­cute their work very quickly be­fore the fresh plas­ter and the pig­ment mixed with wa­ter get dried.

“It be­came an even more dif­fi­cult task for Michelangelo, be­cause un­like many other artists of his time, he paid much at­ten­tion to de­tail.”

De Vito says Michelangelo worked with the same aim when do­ing sculp­tures and de­sign­ing ar­chi­tec­tures. He says that when Michelangelo sculpted on a piece of mar­ble, he wasn’t guided by the whole pic­ture. He started with the de­tails.

He says that be­cause of the great dif­fi­cul­ties in­volved, to­day there are very few fresco painters who em­ploy tech­niques from the Mid­dle Ages.

He says that while Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael also tried do­ing fres­coes, Da Vinci could not made a suc­cess out of it, while Rah­pael had many peo­ple as­sist­ing him. In com­par­i­son, Michelangelo worked alone.

De Vito says the ex­hi­bi­tion shows that Michelangelo still con­nects with to­day’s world.

He says that although tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments have brought much con­ve­nience, the Floren­tine mas­ter’s view still holds true that men should be the “man­agers” of them­selves and should “de­fend” what they be­lieve.

“He sculpted David out of mar­ble. He set an ex­am­ple of what an artist should do — cre­at­ing some­thing out of noth­ing.”

As an artist and scholar, I needed to un­der­stand his mind and how his hands worked.” An­to­nio de Vito, cu­ra­tor of the show

PHO­TOS BY JIANG DONG / CHINA DAILY

Vis­i­tors at the on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion that show­cases copies of Michelangelo’s most cel­e­brated works and his ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs at the Bird’s Nest Cul­ture Cen­ter in Bei­jing.

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