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“The Sealed Book: Han Meilin Tianshu Art Exhibition” Now on View at the Palace Museum


Location:Meridian Gate Gallery (Wu men) and West Wing Gallery in the Forbidden City

Dates: 2021-12-23 through 2022-03-20


On 22 December 2021, “The Sealed Book: Han Meilin Tianshu Art Exhibition” opened in the Meridian Gate Gallery (Wu Men) at the Palace Museum. The exhibition is organized by the Palace Museum and the Han Meilin Art Foundation along with the Han Meilin Art Museum and with academic support by the Tsinghua University Research Center of Ancient Chinese Characters Art and the Tsinghua University Center for Han Meilin Art Research.

Present at the opening ceremony were Li Qun, former vice-minister of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and director of the National Administration of Cultural Heritage; Wang Xudong, member of the leading Party group of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and director of the Palace Museum; Zheng Xinmiao, former director of the Palace Museum and former vice-minister of the Ministry of Culture; Lu Changhua, former deputy secretary-general of the CPPCC National Committee; Yu Zaiqing, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee and vice-president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; Liu Yuzhu, director of the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation; Geng Shibo, director of the Culture and History Operations Division of the Counsellors' Office of the State Council; Qiu Guohong, former Chinese ambassador to South Korea; Guan Jiefu, former director of the Military Energy Bureau of the Central Military Commission Logistics Support Department; Chang Shana, professor at the Tsinghua University Academy of Arts & Design and celebrated art and design educator; Shing-Tung Yau, director of the Tsinghua University Yau Mathematical Sciences Center and acclaimed mathematician; Yan Chongnian, research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences and renowned historian; Mo Yan, vice-president of the China Writers Association and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature; Jiang Kun, president of the China Quyi Artists Association; Yanjue, president of the Buddhist Association of China; Ma Fenghui, secretary of the Party sub-group, standing vice-chairman, and secretary-general of the China Artists Association; Xu Li, vice-chairman of the China Artists Association; Peng Gang, vice-president of Tsinghua University; Xie Weihe, vice-chairman of the Tsinghua University Academic Affairs Committee and former vice-president of Tsinghua University; Han Meilin, senior professor of Arts at Tsinghua University and artist; and other honored guests. The opening ceremony was hosted by the renowned news anchor Kang Hui.

Director Wang Xudong shared how “The Sealed Book: Han Meilin Tianshu Art Exhibition” organized by the Palace Museum and the Han Meilin Art Foundation is a fusion of traditional culture and contemporary art. The Forbidden City is the creation of the working people of ancient China, a vessel for five-thousand years of Chinese civilization, and the convergence of China’s excellent traditional culture. “The Sealed Book” is the first exclusive showcase of Han Meilin’s Tianshu (lit. “Heavenly Script”) art series, which not only demonstrates the determination of the eighty-five-year-old artist and his artistic spirit of personal breakthroughs but also the Palace Museum’s inclusion of traditional and contemporary Chinese art.

The celebrated author and cultural scholar Feng Jicai shared his congratulations and thoughts by video noting how one can seemingly hear a silent discourse emanating from this exhibition of Han Meilin’s contemporary art in the historical Forbidden City and how the combination of the two stimulates deep thought.

Han Meilin shared how his Tianshu has a special place in his artistic domains and has been an agent of advancement and change for his art and inspiration. The Palace Museum, he said, is the largest home for Chinese culture and that his two exhibitions at the Forbidden City are his tribute to the national culture.


This exhibition follows the “Han Meilin: Chinese Zodiac Art Exhibition” held in 2019 and is the second exhibition of Han Meilin’s art in the Forbidden City. Over several decades, Han Meilin has recorded tens of thousands of ancient characters and symbols from oracle bones, stone inscriptions, petroglyphs, pottery, bronzes, ceramics, bricks, stone drums, and other artifacts and compiled them in Tianshu. The mystery of ancient characters, boundlessness of history, aesthetics of calligraphy, and the brilliance of the artist are combined in this project. The exhibition presents the artistic elements of Tianshu in works of painting, calligraphy, ceramics, zisha pottery, printing, dyeing, wood carving, wrought iron, and other artforms. Divided in five sections, the exhibition features 1,500 works of art.

During the opening ceremony, congratulations were shared by Irina Bokova, former director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Hans d'Orville, UNESCO assistant director-general for strategic planning; the Spanish artist Juan Ripollés; the Washi (i.e., Japanese paper) artist Horiki Eriko; and Lee Dong-guk, senior curator of the Seoul Calligraphy Museum at the Seoul Arts Center.


In recent years, Han Meilin has been honored with many awards, including recognition by UNESCO as an Artist for Peace, the Pierre de Coubertin medal by the International Olympic Committee, and the Order of Cultural Merit from the President of South Korea. He has staged large-scale, internationally acclaimed exhibitions, including the “Han Meilin: Chinese Zodiac Art Exhibition” as well as a global tour of his art in places such as Venice, Paris, Liechtenstein, Seoul, and Bangkok.


Han Meilin’s newly published Tianshu was released to the public on 22 December. The two-volume work is published by the Zhonghua Book Company. A compilation of Han Meilin’s Tianshu art, the publication also includes articles analyzing the artworks by Feng Jicai, Li Xueqin, Feng Qiyong, and other experts. Present at the book release ceremony were Wang Yuegong, deputy-director of the Palace Museum; Li Yan, member of the leading Party group of the China Publishing Group and general manager of China Publishing & Media Holdings Co., Ltd.; the artist Han Meilin; Zhang Jihai, deputy editor-in-chief of Zhonghua Book Company; Xu Xuhong, director of the Zhonghua Book Company Cultural Heritage Editorial Department; and Zhou Jianping, secretary-general of the Han Meilin Art Foundation and general director of the Han Meilin Art Museum.


Notice on Exhibition Reservations
“The Sealed Book: Han Meilin Tianshu Art Exhibition” is on view from 23 December 2021 to 20 March 2022 in the Meridian Gate Gallery (Wu men) and West Wing Gallery in the Forbidden City. Due to current epidemic prevention and control requirements, and in accordance with regulations requiring reservations, limiting the number of daily visitors, and setting visiting-time intervals, the exhibition requires advanced reservation. The daily quota is 3,000 visitors; reservations close once the quota is reached. Visitors may make reservations via the Palace Museum’s online ticketing service (https://gugong.ktmtech.cn/) or the Palace Museum’s official WeChat account by real-name registration with a second-generation ID card (for Chinese residents) or passport (for foreigners). When entering, each visitor may need to present the ID card or passport used at the time of reservation.

Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu


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