Treasures from Chopin's Country. Polish Art from the 15th to 20th Century
Exhibition in the National Museum of China in Beijing
February 6th, 2015 to May 10th, 2015
Treasures From Chopin’s Country. Polish Art From the 15th to 20th Century will be the first such an extensive presentation of Polish to the Chinese public, for whom, in majority, this will possibly be the first encounter with Poland, a country unknown or only associated with Chopin’s music. The exposition will be housed in the prestigious space of the National Museum of China located at the east side of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. For the sake of the exhibition, as much as 1’800 square metres have been reserved, which will allow to showcase more than 350 artworks – sculptures, paintings, products of artistic craft, weaponry, medals and posters. The Polish First Lady Anna Komorowska bestowed her honorary patronage upon the exhibition.
In a manner attractive to Chinese visitor, the exhibition unfolds a narrative in which the remote country in the heart of Europe at the border of the East and West, its history and culture are presented. An introduction is provided by an animated map visualising the geographical location of Poland in the Euro-Asiatic context. The map emphasizes the historical changeability of Polish territory, a fact which left a distinctive mark on our culture and arts. Further, the visitor will be guided through subsequent historical periods, beginning with the middle ages until contemporary times. The journey will encompass medieval altarpieces, the splendour of Old Polish culture, the cultural consequences of the fall of the Polish state and subsequent significance of the 19th-century art for the preservation of national identity during the times of political oppression, the new goals of artistic creation during the era of revival of the Polish state after 1918, as well as the diversity of development of contemporary art. The exhibition will be concluded with a presentation of Polish poster art, already esteemed in China. The historical information at the exhibition will merge the entire exposition into one concise and fascinating narrative on Polish art.
The selection of artworks for the exhibition was on the one hand determined by their typicality for Polish artistic production, and, on the other hand, by their artistic quality. We were trying to highlight the specific traits of Polish art, like, for instance, the great significance of historical painting of the 19th century. However, we should also like to enable the Chinese beholder a more direct approach, hinting at some cultural analogies, like the oriental influences in Polish art, so typical of Sarmatian, or baroque times – explains Professor Maria Poprzęcka, Curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition includes multiple gems of Polish art, to name just medieval sculptural ‘beautiful Madonnas’; the so-called Stockholm Roll, or the 16-metre long paper scroll representing the wedding procession of King Sigismund III; Polish hussars’ glorious winged armours; the majestic Jan Matejko’s painting presenting Stefan Batory at the Siege of Pskov, Stanisław Wyspiański’s stained-glass composition titled God the Father presented as a monumental projection; Xavery Dunikowski’s symbolist sculpture, The Breath; Polish folklore-inspired, vibrant decorations designed by Zofia Stryjeńska; or Rose – the early work of genius sculptress Alina Szapocznikow. Finally, a part of the exposition will be dedicated to its patron – Fryderyk Chopin, and the hometown of his youth – Warsaw.
The exhibition, whose opening on 6 February 2015 will coincide with the preparation for the celebration of the Chinese Spring Festival, the key event in the Chinese calendar year, was prepared by the National Museum in Warsaw in cooperation with Culture.pl which is the flag brand of Adam Mickiewicz Institute and with the National Museums in Kraków and Poznań. The exhibition will be accompanied with the richly illustrated catalogue book containing introductory essays on the history of Polish art since the 15th through 20th century as well as the history of the National Museum in Warsaw. The book will be published in a bilingual Chinese-English version.
The Curator of the exhibition is Maria Poprzęcka, Professor at the Faculty of Artes Liberales of the Warsaw University. The Chinese Curator of the exhibition is Ms Wang Hui from the National Museum of China in Beijing.
The exhibition was financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland with support of KGHM Polska Miedź SA, the exhibition patron. The exhibition was organized with support of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Beijing.