Beijing Art

Nicholas Quirke was impressed to see that the National Art museum of China had completely changed their exhibitions and that the organisation seemed to have returned to a normal schedule on 14 November 2020. He had survived Friday the 13th which slipped by almost unnoticed if it hadn’t been for explaining the western superstition to his classes who seemed to enjoy learning about the Norse Myth and to his surprise knew all about the last supper. It was a day where he had stayed safely indoors and had involved house cleaning and cooking before venturing out for a 4 hour teaching mission. The school were keen for him to do a Thanksgiving workshop on reading and drama which, as he was reorganising his birthday weekend was acceptable to him. Spending most of the day inside meant that when Saturday arrived he was relieved to get out into the fresh air despite the autumnal gloom that had now settled on the city. Revisiting the Art Museum with Peng seemed an excellent way of spending the day, particularly as there was now an exhibition of Japanese Ukyio-E and its Chinese counterpart. He had seen an comprehensive exhibition in Osaka but had been unable to take any photographs, here, although it was a less extensive retrospective, he was able to capture a few of the exquisite images which to his satisfaction focussed on the paintings of actors and theatrical events in both countries. The museum also featured an exposition of artefacts collected by Rong Geng (1894 – 1983) a connoisseur and scholar and ‘kindly donated’ by him to the Chinese Government. Nicholas was fascinated how a man, whose lifetime bore witness to the monumental upheaval of communism in China, managed to maintain and continue his collection of art treasures which, he suspected, was latterly acting as curator to the acquisitions. The final exhibition ‘Frankly Sincere’, was a retrospective of the artist Gao Chao who from the 1950’s onwards captured images of Chinas’s rural landscapes, social reality and its revolutionary history. Nicholas also wandered around the sculptures in the exterior of the museum and was surprised to learn from Peng that until he had visited England he had never seen sculptures indoors. They enjoyed a longing tea in the stylish cafe before heading to Wangfujing Street for a salad bowl lunch. The evening’s film consumption did not stray far from the horror theme that was dominating the releases and they watched the cleverly conceived Black Box. A restorative sleep as always was a welcome guest.

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