The extraordinary creativity of Chinese artists over the centuries is set to be celebrated next month, with the launch of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei at the Art Gallery of NSW.
This blockbuster exhibition, which is launching at the peak of Sydney's Lunar New Year celebrations on Saturday, February 2, marks the first time that Taipei's National Palace Museum has displayed works in the Southern Hemisphere. Showcasing 87 masterworks across painting, ceramics, illustration, bronzes, calligraphy, jade and wood carvings, the exhibition explores the ancient Chinese concept of tian ren he yi — a philosophical principle based on the relationship between nature, humans and the cosmos.
These incredible objects date from as far back as 5000 years ago (the Neolithic period) right up to the 19th century and, for the most part, are drawn from the Imperial collections of the Qing dynasty. Don't leave without seeing one of the most popular of the National Palace Museum's treasures: the 'meat-shaped stone'. It's exactly what it sounds like — a stone carved from jasper that closely (so closely it'll make you feel oddly hungry) resembles a piece of tender, juicy braised pork belly sitting in a decorative gold dish.
As always, the gallery will host a number of special events alongside this exhibition including traditional Chinese calligraphy demonstrations, a film series and live music (inspired by Chinese poetry) from singer-songwriter Sophie Koh. Head down on Wednesday, February 6 for a special Lunar New Year-inspired Art After Hours and Saturday, February 9 for a free traditional Chinese tea ceremony.
Images: Qing dynasty 1644–1911, Shen Yuan, 'Along the River During the Qingming Festival'; Qing dynasty 1644-1911, 'Meat shaped stone', National Palace Museum; Ming dynasty 1368–1644, 'Portrait of the Hongzhi Emperor', National Palace Museum; Qing dynasty 1644–1911 'In celebration of the Amitabha Buddha' (detail) National Palace Museum; Ming dynasty 1368–1644, Qiu Ying, 'Fuxi', National Palace Museum.