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Win-Win Cooperation Belt and Road International Printmaking Exchange: Project Achievement Exhibition

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Location:Hall for Abstinence (Zhai gong)

Dates: 2019-04-30 through 2019-05-31

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Admission: free with purchase of general admission ticket

Printmaking is a genre of artistic expression and an important medium for international cultural exchange. “Win-Win Cooperation: Belt and Road International Printmaking Exchange” is a showcase of printmaking and an important forum for bringing the artists and people of the world together.

On May 18, 2019, the Chinese National Academy of Arts and the Palace Museum jointly held the opening ceremony for “Win-Win Cooperation: Belt and Road International Printmaking Exchange” at the Hall of Abstinence (Zhai gong) in the Forbidden City. Deputy-Minister Li Qun of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Director Wang Xudong of the Palace Museum, and Director Han Ziyong of the Chinese National Academy of Arts, and other leaders, representatives, and journalists were present at the event.

The exhibition includes activities such as gallery displays, documentary reports, showing of documentaries, printmaking classes, and art donations. On April 30, the exhibition space was opened to the public and attracted a large number of visitors. With a range of works by international printmakers, the innovative exhibition advances the art of Chinese printmaking and printmaking exchanges along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative.

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On the day of the opening ceremony, the Palace Museum also held a class on printmaking titled “Great Civilization” with ten groups of families and six groups of students and teachers participating. After touring the gallery, the participants were guided by artists to complete their own prints with cultural elements unique to the Palace Museum. The class was a practical way to pass on the traditional art of printmaking and related information and allow participants to gain an understanding of the cultural import of China’s great historical heritage as embodied in the Forbidden City.

As the former palace of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, the Forbidden City was an important historical destination for goods imported along the network of trade routes known as the Silk Road. Quantities of foreign art and commodities were added to the palace treasuries and storehouses and, eventually, became part of the Palace Museum’s vast collection, which testifies to the long history of Chinese exchange with the rest of the world. Consequently, the Palace Museum is an important cultural hub in the endeavor known as the Belt and Road Initiative (also called One Belt, One Road or Yidai yilu). In May of 2017 while the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing, the Kulangsu Gallery of Foreign Artifacts from the Palace Museum Collection opened in Xiamen, Fujian Province with an inaugural exhibition called “The Forbidden City and the Maritime Silk Road” to present international Chinese exchange and build bridges of friendship with people in each country of the world.

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In May 2017, in order to strengthen international artistic exchange, realize the exportation of traditional Chinese culture, and promote the Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese National Academy of Arts and the Original Industry Base for Printmaking at Guanlan in Shenzhen jointly established the Chinese National Academy of Arts Base for Printmaking Creation and Education at Guanlan and launched the “Win-Win Cooperation: Belt and Road International Printmaking Exchange” project to use printmaking as a medium for artist residencies, themed exhibitions, scholarly conferences, artwork donations, public classes, art education, and other applications to promote international cultural exchange, understanding, and cooperation.

The project was planned for two years (2017–2018) and included 104 artists from forty-two countries, including China, along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative. With initial creative activities at the base in Guanlan, the project also included exhibitions at the Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo of both 2017 and 2018 with ten showings domestically and abroad. The project’s academic conferences were the Dunhuang International Printmaking Forum, Belt and Road Guanlan International Printmaking Forum, and the 2019 Guanlan International Printmaking Forum. While the project encouraged public organizations to collect works featured in the project, many of the project’s works were donated to art galleries and museums in China and around the world to promote the artform. With the support of various organizations, twenty-one new printmaking workshops were established to ensure continued education in the art.

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“Win-Win Cooperation: Belt and Road International Printmaking Exchange” had the goals of peaceful cooperation, open tolerance, mutual appreciation, mutual education, mutual benefit, and common victory and received support from artists and art organizations around the world. After two years of implementation and exploration, participants gained deeper understanding, and, more importantly, people were able to feel the charisma of the cultures and arts of the countries along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The invention of block-printing technology allowed China to lead the world into the age of printing and, now, as a lingua franca, printmaking is spread along the Belt and Road and is displayed among the convergence of each country’s unique cultural characteristics. “Win-Win Cooperation: Belt and Road International Printmaking Exchange” allows people of each country opportunities for artistic exchange and is an important contribution in the building of a “Silk Road of Art.”

Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying

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