TO EXHIBITION PAGE
by Fan Pu
Chinese Christian Art Exhibition was held at the Palais Harrach in Vienna
September 17- October 30, 2000. It was organized by the Austrian Museum
of Fine Arts with the support of the Austrian Chinese Friendship Society.
The Museum of Fine Arts is the largest and most important Museum in
Austria and ranks among the most prestigious museums in the world. The
exhibition was well received by the public, the press and Austrian television.
17th, 2000, in the morning, The Contemporary Chinese Christian Art Exhibition
opened with Dr. Wilfried Sepel, director of the Museum, presiding at
the opening ceremony. Famous Chinese songs such as The High Mountains
and Flowing Water were played on a traditional Chinese musical instrument
called Zhen. Among the distinguished guests for the ceremony were friends
who came from across Austria and others. Ms. Megumi Yoshida, a Japanese
theologian and former General Secretary of the Asian Christian Art Association,
came especially from Germany. Ding Fang and I were the representatives
from China. We were in Vienna from September 15th to October 10th.
All the works
exhibited were selected by Dr. Sepel himself when he was in China. Some
of the pieces were from the Chinese Catholic Church. Works exhibited
ranged from traditional Chinese paintings, Chinese calligraphy, and
paper-cuts, to wood-carvings and decorative paintings. Every piece of
work was in the Chinese style. Some of the pieces were oil paintings
which represented the high level of modern Chinese art. In order to
give a more Chinese artistic atmosphere, it was arranged for another
Chinese artist, Wang Zhi-ming, and me to do on-site improvised paper
cutting and painting, respectively, on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.
We were able to introduce the traditional art of paper-cuts and Chinese
paintings to the audience. This was to help Austrians have a direct
perceptual knowledge of Chinese culture and Chinese churches. In individual
exchanges, people often raised the question, "Are Chinese Christian
Churches open to the public?" I think this exhibition was a good way
to help people better understand our Chinese culture and Chinese churches.
In order to promote
the Austrians' understanding of China, the Austrian Museum of Fine Arts
and the Austrian Chinese Friendship Society worked hard at publicity.
Large numbers of posters were placed on the streets of Vienna. The Friendship
Society sent numerous letters to churches which have no contacts with
the churches in China and invited them to the exhibition.
Chinese Friendship Society had a good response from the promotion. As
a result, the Kloster-Schloss Wermberg-Pension and Evangelische Pfarrgemeinde
Christuskirche invited me to visit them and introduce my Christian art
on September 26th and 29th, so people could learn about China and Chinese
churches through Christian art.
26th, I went by train alone to Villach. A sister and the translator
met me at the station. This was my first time to travel by train outside
of China, and was the first time to meet a protestant sister dressed
like a Catholic nun. The Kloster-Schloss Wermberg-Pension is an old
monastery with a long history. There are many African and Asian Christian
art works on the walls, in the corridors and in every room. They had
never seen Chinese Christian art works. The sisters showed me their
beautiful embroidery art. In the evening, I introduced my art works
to the people who came. I gave explanations on each art piece. From
their eyes, I know they were interested in my work. On the morning of
the 27th, a sister told me that she was sorry to miss my art show, but
she was on duty the night before. Another guest told me that she was
very moved by my art works and the explanations had empowered her.
28th, the Protestant Association for World Mission in Austria invited
us to Salzburg. Mr. Gottfried Mernyi, who worked in EAWM, served as
our guide. Mr. and Mrs. Osinga, Mag. Irmgard Joo, who helped us as a
translator, and I visited Salzburg. I was glad to share with the local
church people that evening and explain my art works to them. I could
tell from their eyes that they were discovering many new things. They
had never had the opportunity to learn about the Chinese Church or meet
with Chinese Christian artists.
Society also hosted on September 18th to 19th an International Chinese
Culture Seminar entitled The Role of the Individual vis-a-vis The Family,
Society and State in Asia and Europe. Ding Fang and Megume Yoshida and
I were invited to attend the conference. The Mag. Dr. Gerd Kaminski
and Dr. Barbara Kreissi from the Friendship Society gave a brief introduction
of the Contemporary Chinese Christian Art Exhibition which had just
opened to the public. I was invited to talk about the Amity Art Center
as well as indigenous Chinese Christian Art, which raised the interests
of the audience. They had been under the impression that China is still
a backward and closed society. During the conversation, the president
of the Sino-Dutch Friendship Council expressed the hope to set up an
exhibition in Holland, so that people could learn about China through
Ms. Megumi Yoshida
is a Japanese who came for the opening ceremony and the conference.
Since 1992 when the first Asian Women Christian Artists Consultation
was held in Hong Kong, she has taken a deep interest in the development
of Chinese Christian art. In 1998 she came to China to do her research.
While she was in China, she visited the Amity Christian Art Center in
Nanjing and she visited Ding Fang in Beijing. She is a true supporter
of Chinese Christian art.
A Dutch couple,
Mr. And Mrs. Osinga, who are supporters of Christian artists, made a
special trip to Vienna to attend the exhibition and visited me. This
is the first time we have met face to face, even though we have corresponded
for many years. Mr. Osinga was surprised at the quick development of
Chinese Christian art. The Mission-Zendings Calendar (MZK) Dutch, has
compiled a wall calendar for the last twenty years to introduce Christian
art from the various countries, so Mr. Osinga has a good knowledge of
Christian art from various countries. Mr. Osinga didn't realize how
helpful the Mission Zendings Calendar has been to the development of
indigenous Christian art in China. For myself, the calendar and Mr.
Osinga himself are my Christian art teachers. Mr. Osinga hopes to visit
China to see more Christian art works and meet the artists. I think
he can introduce many indigenous Christian art works from different
countries to the Chinese artists.
There were others
who also showed interest in this Chinese Christian Art Exhibition. Ms.
Wo Ye, who is from the Catholic Church in China, and studying at the
Milan Museum in Italy at the time, also attended the exhibition. During
the pre-war years the Roman Catholic University of Fu-Ren University
in Beijing held a Christian art exhibition. In all the pictures there
was the conscious determination to express the subject in Chinese terms
and according to Chinese ideas. Mr. Luke Chen and his students, who
were famous artists in China, had works in Italy and America. From Ms.
Wo Ye and Ms. Mary's paintings we can find the shadow of history.
Rev. Dr. Joachim
Wietzke, who is from NMZ Hamburg, sent an invitation letter to the Austrian
Chinese Friendship Society, inviting me to introduce Chinese Christian
art and show my art works there. Dr. Monika Gaenssbauer, Secretary for
East Asia NMZ is our friend. She often comes to China and is always
interested in Chinese Christian art. Her articles introduce Chinese
Christian art and she gives much help to the Chinese Christian artists.
She made all the arrangements for my visit to Hamburg. On October 2nd
NMZ held a meeting to share my art works. Dr. Monika Gaenssbauer translated
my explanation very well, because she is quite knowledgeable about my
art. Ms. Anja Ruoss, who had just finished her exam and is working in
a China Center made a special trip to Hamburg to accompany me to the
Museum of Barlach. Ernst Barlach was a famous Christian artist in Germany.
The Italian Christian
Art expert and theologian, Dr. Heinrich Pfeffer, was expected to attend
the exhibition but because of other responsibilities he did not attend.
He sent a letter of apology.
Prof. Theo Sundermeier,
a German professor at the University of Heidelberg and an expert at
the Christian Art Research Center, invited me to visit Heidelberg, because
he could not attend the exhibition. He hopes to visit China in the near
future and to introduce Chinese Christian art through various kinds
of printed materials.
Prof. Theo Sundermeier's student, who once studied Chinese and did research
on Chinese theology in Nanjing, came to the exhibition. We are very
good friends in the Lord. Like Monika Gaenssbauer she is very interested
in Chinese Christian art and introduces it on many occasions. She has
helped me greatly with my art. We often discuss the difference in culture
between the East and West, and how East and West cannot understand each
other without art. I think the best thing she has given me is her faith
and love. She is a good example for me. During my hard times God always
dispatches an angel to comfort and help me. These angels are ordinary
sisters and brothers who live God's love. Isabel Hess made a special
trip from Munich to Vienna to attend the exhibition with her new baby.
The next day we went to Munich to visit the Museum and met some friends
who are interested in Chinese people and Chinese Christian art. From
Munich to Heidelberg she drove us to visit Prof. Sundermeier. She did
all of this with a new baby. She did a lot of hard work with love.
After so many
years of communicating with each other, I met Greda Isart face to face
for the first time. We were able to meet in Heidelberg. It was a hurried
visit, but I could feel her kindness. I am disappointed I could not
visit Ms. Rosemarie Glasle. She has been ill for a long time. We have
written each other for many years, too. These friends are always concerned
about Chinese Christian art and they have given me much help.
Why has Chinese
Christian art developed so quickly? It is because so many friends have
given so much help and support.
This was the
first Chinese Christian Art Exhibition to be held in Europe and also
the first time for it to be held outside of China. Because of many joint
efforts, the exhibition was successful and raised the interests of the
European people in various fields. In response to this exhibition, the
Austrian Chinese Friendship Society will organize a group from both
the Catholic and Protestant Churches of Austria to visit China at the
end of this year or the early part of next year. They hope to meet more
Christian artists and see their works. They also intend to hold a Chinese
Christian Folk Art Exhibition in partnership with Austrian Protestant
churches next fall in Salzburg, Austria. Though the curtain for The
Contemporary Chinese Christian Art Exhibition at the Austrian Museum
of Fine Arts successfully closed on October 30th, the exhibition itself
has not finished.