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Ancient work inspires modern world

By WU YANBO | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-07 07:28
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Eddie Redmayne, who appears in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, poses with a picture of Zouwu. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Museum display

An exhibition titled Imaginary Encounter-Divine Comedy Dialogue with Shan Hai Jing was staged in Shanghai at the Pearl Art Museum from November to February. An online version of the display is still available, including a 360-degree virtual reality exhibition hall and a video of the curator's guide to visitors. The online display has been viewed about 200,000 times.

The museum exhibition was supported by the Cultural Office of the Italian Consulate General in Shanghai to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of the poet and scholar Dante Alighieri, known as the "father of the Italian language".

The exhibits included four precious manuscripts of Dante's Divine Comedy from the 14th century and two rare engraved copies of Shan Hai Jing from the Shanghai Library. The exhibition also showcased more than 70 multimedia works from five Italian artists and seven artists from China, based on the two classics.

Francesco D'Arelli, director of the cultural section at the Italian Consulate General, said: "Both Divine Comedy and The Classic of Mountains and Seas are great classics, in which imagination is the main source of inspiration and even creation. In both works, there is a common experience of journeying between myth and reality.

"Shan Hai Jing was written no later than the 1st century BC. China and Italy were already communicating by that time during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) and the Roman Empire. This communication went on for centuries, right up to the time of Dante and Marco Polo.

"Marco Polo came to China, and Dante wrote many works in Italy, laying the foundation for the Italian language. We wanted to highlight this ancient friendship in this exhibition, because it is the foundation of every communication experience."

Li Dandan, director of the Pearl Art Museum and the exhibition's chief curator, said, "The display attempted to activate ancient texts with visual art, and construct a colorful dialogue between ancient Chinese and European civilizations in the new era."

The exhibition attracted numerous visitors from the film and television animation industries seeking to gain more inspiration from imaginative ancient classics, according to Wang Yingyou, a staff member at the museum. She added that the event also increased sales of related books at the museum's bookstore.

Wu Xinyi, who has a doctorate in literature from Fudan University in Shanghai, said contemporary artworks displayed at the museum show the continuity of Chinese culture and aesthetics, from ancient times to the present.

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