Chinese artist's timely response to migrant crisis in Europe

By Agence France-Presse in Florence, Ltaly ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-04-26 08:08:16

Chinese artist's timely response to migrant crisis in Europe

Chinese artist Liu Xiaodong poses at his exhibition Migrazioni (Migrations) in Florence.[Photo/Agencies]

Liu Xiaodong, an acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist, has put Europe's migrant crisis at the center of an exhibition of new work that is now running in Italy.

Titled Migrazioni (Migrations), the collection features a total of 182 multithemed works including paintings, photography, photo painting, explanatory text and a video documentary.

It is being billed by its sponsors, Florence's innovative Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, as one of the art world's most significant responses to date to the wave of refugees arriving on Europe's southern shores.

The exhibition is due to run through June 19 in the Tuscan capital's Palazzo Strozzi, just a short bus ride away from Prato, the Florence suburb that is now home to one of the biggest Chinese communities in Europe.

What began as an invitation to Liu to spend time in the region examining the relationship between Prato's Chinese population and broader Tuscan society evolved into something much larger when the artist decided to see for himself the journeys being made by Syrian refugees trying to reach northern Europe via Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.

The result is a thought-provoking collection that is partly an illustrated diary of the artist's trips from Florence to the frontline of the migrant crisis, and partly a reflection on the nature of migration itself, seen through the twin optics of Prato's Chinatown and the timeless beauty of Tuscany's undulating, cypress-dotted countryside.

"There are two extremes of migration converging in Europe at the moment," Liu says in an interview. "In Prato there is this very quiet, not very visible presence. And then there is this migration, that we hear about every day, of people fleeing from war. And I wanted to bring these two ideas together in one exhibition."

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