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Feature: China's art melts past into future at Venice Biennale 2013

By Marzia De Giuli

VENICE, Italy, May 31 (PNA/Xinhua) — "Actually I met China through its contemporary art," said an Italian artist, Diego Zuelli, while visiting China's Pavilion unveiled at the Venice Biennale 2013 that will kick off in the iconic water city on Saturday.

"I had never come close to China until I had the opportunity of knowing the creativity of its artists, and so I became curious to increase my knowledge of this culture," he told Xinhua.

Like Zuelli, many international experts who visited China's Pavilion at the international art exhibition said they were impressed by the incisiveness of the seven selected Chinese artists.

Their works of art ranged from painting to photography, video and installation under the theme of "transfiguration," a word from classical art history echoing certain characteristics of contemporary international society, said Wang Chunchen, head of the curatorial research team at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum in Beijing and curator of the Chinese pavilion.

He said "transfiguration" was China's response to the leading theme of the Venice Biennale 2013, the "Encyclopedic Palace," which points to the all-embracing place where human knowledge is revered.

"In fact, China as well as the whole world is undergoing massive transformation," Wang noted. "And in this experience of growth, Chinese artists have become more initiating and have expressed their profound concern through their thoughts and emotions," he added.

For example, through 1500 transparent tiles each one containing a phrase that shows concepts and changes of today's society, Shu Yong presented his understanding of the role of art. "Artists do not provide answers, but help analyze reality," the artist from Hunan province said.

Hu Yaolin, from Zhejiang province, used elements of the Hui-style architecture, one of the typical Chinese architectural styles, to create a new public space where a combination of historical tradition and modern society was displayed.

He Yunchang's seawater bottles were involved with an active participation of the audience: the artist from Yunnan province prepared 2013 glass bottles filled with seawater that visitors could exchange with their own containers to symbolize equality and harmoniousness.

"I feel at home here. Only a few artists in the world are able to link together their history with their future in such a precise manner," said Italian former Environment Minister Corrado Clini, who took part in the China's Pavilion opening ceremony along with local authorities on Wednesday.

Clini not only appreciates China's contemporary art, but also has actually embellished his house with several works of Chinese artists. "They give an idea of novelty but have all the flavor of China's ancient history," he told Xinhua.

"These works of art made me realize that China has taken the next big step. While getting back all its history, China has managed to project itself into the future. And this is extremely fascinating to me," he said. (PNA/Xinhua)

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