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Sculpting the Soul

Pictured above: Liu Kaiqu Yak 1960 (NAMOC)

As part of an ongoing partnership with the prestigious National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), three modern Chinese sculptures are on display at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra until 28 February 2022

Pictured above: Liu Kaiqu Yak 1960

Sculpting the Soul features works by Liu Kaiqu (1904–1993), Xiong Bingming (1922–2002) and Wu Weishan (1962– ) that reflect the influence of and inheritance from different generations, and celebrate China’s cultural richness.

Sculpting the Soul will be on display in the main showcase in the National Museum’s beautiful Gandel Atrium for all visitors to enjoy.

National Museum Director Dr Mathew Trinca said: “I am delighted that these sculptures will be the next instalment in our longstanding collaboration with NAMOC.”

“The National Museum and NAMOC exchanged exhibitions in 2010 and 2011 – we sent Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert to Beijing and NAMOC sent A New Horizon: Contemporary Chinese Art to Canberra,” Dr Trinca said.

“We recently signed a new memorandum of understanding and sent eight magnificent Aboriginal artworks from our collection for the Red Heart of Australia exhibition, which is currently on display at NAMOC. These red-hued paintings, created by artists from across Central Australia, were an auspicious start to our renewed cultural exchange, and the works in Sculpting the Soul will cement that commitment,” Dr Trinca said.

NAMOC Director Wu Weishan, whose award-winning bronze sculpture Sleeping Child is featured in Sculpting the Soul, said: “Modern Chinese sculpture reflects Chinese traditions while also incorporating Western artistic ideas. This integration of traditional art, with its emphasis on freehand and linear expression, and Western art, which stresses design and space, has injected life into Chinese sculpture and taken it to the next level.”

“Liu Kaiqu was regarded as an important pioneer of modern Chinese sculpture. Compared with his epic and imposing works focusing on the revolution, his white marble sculpture Yak is both simple and elegant, placid and timeless – a passionate ode to life,” Mr Wu said.

“Xiong Bingming, a highly influential figure in Chinese art, specialised in both Chinese and Western sculpture, painting, calligraphy, poetry and philosophy, and took modern Chinese aesthetics to new heights. Through his sculptures we can see his respect and love for life. His bronze Horse – majestic and solemn – transcends time and space,” Mr Wu said.

“Following in the footsteps of my seniors, I strive to contribute to a conversation that encompasses both Chinese and Western art and to learn about life through art. My sculpture Sleeping Child captures the innocence and happiness of childhood – a moment when a child is asleep that reflects the charm of naivety,” Mr Wu said

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