Sydney exhibition opens the world to intricate Chinese art
INTRICATE, yet simplistic, the collection of unique artefacts from Taipei's National Palace Museum reveals a world as old as 5000 years ago.
The Heaven and earth in Chinese art exhibition is open at the NSW Art Gallery in Sydney, from today through to May 5. It is the first time this collection has been shown in the southern hemisphere.
The works were gathered by emperors over the centuries and for a very long time seen only by the imperial elite.
What you will see is certainly a celebration of the incredibly rich heritage of Chinese civilisation through the ancient concept of tian ren he yi - unity or harmony between heaven, nature and humanity - Heaven and earth in Chinese art presents a series of 87 artworks including paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics, jade and wood carvings, dating from the Neolithic period to the nineteenth century.
This is not a huge exhibition says Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand. "We want to give our visitors the chance to really appreciate the masterpieces here with time rather than feeling that they have to rush through to be able to see a thousand works of art," he said.
"This is one of the most refined exhibitions that we have ever staged here."
I found a few surprising pieces among the superb display of carvings, ceramics, paintings and calligraphy.
The emperor's curious box has 28 tiny replica items tucked neatly into their own section of the beautifully carved box; the olive pit minutely carved into a boat full of passengers, furniture and doors that open and close; and a 20m scroll of such intricate artwork that it was hard to walk away without savouring every part of the work.
The most unusual one was the meat-shaped stone carved from jasper which looks distinctly like a piece of pork sitting on a gold crown.
For information on ticket prices and exhibition times, go to artgallery.nsw.gov.au.