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Ancient Cycladic civilization meets modern Beijing March 24, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Hellenic Light Asia.
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Archaeological exhibition will open on April 3

24-03-08_cycladic.jpg  A marble female figurine from the early Cycladic II period, circa 2700-2300 BC.

With the Olympic Games in Beijing almost upon us, the Chinese capital is getting ready to welcome some of the wonders of one of Europe’s oldest civilizations. “The Cyclades: Masterpieces of an Aegean Culture” is an archaeological exhibition that will go on display at Beijing’s Imperial City Art Museum on April 3 and is scheduled to run to May 15.

On loan from the Museum of Cycladic Art and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, figurines, tools and pots, dating to the 4th and 3rd millennia BC, are set to travel to China for the first time. The exhibition is part of the ongoing Cultural Year of Greece in China, which started last September and includes more interesting cultural events.

“This is the first archaeological exhibition of the Cultural Year of Greece in China,” said Sandra Marinopoulou, the new President of the N.P. Goulandris Foundation [who took over after the death of Dolly Goulandris], at a recent press conference. She pointed out that a display of artifacts from the ancient Cycladic civilization – the culture that flourished on the islands of the Cyclades – is of particular importance in a country that has not had much contact with Greek culture, because the exhibits are highly reminiscent of modern artworks by 20th-century artists whom they have inspired.

24-03-08_cycladic_art.jpg  The exhibits have been carefully arranged so as to reflect a sense of familiarity, as Nikolaos Stambolidis, Director of the Museum of Cycladic Art, explained. “We had at our disposal a huge space with glass displays which could have made the few statuettes almost disappear,” said Bessy Drouga from the National Archaeological Museum. Yet the opposite effect was achieved, since the exhibition has been enriched with maps of Europe as well as colors reminiscent of the Aegean Sea. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog in Chinese and English.

Situated in the center of Beijing, in Chang Pu He Park, the Imperial City Art Museum opened its gates to the public in June 2003. The two-floor structure houses traditional Chinese art but is also keen on showcasing international artwork.

Further events organized in the context of the Cultural Year of Greece in China, as Sofoklis Psilianos, general secretary for the Olympic Utilization explained, include an exhibition of costumes from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, a large exhibition in collaboration with Greece’s National Archaeological Museum, a performance of Dimitris Papaioannou’s staging of “Medea” as well as Sophocles’ tragedy “Ajax” by the Attis Theater, among other activities.


Greek Culture Year continues in Beijing, China March 2, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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The exhibition at the Hellenic House gave people in Beijing a preview of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. The Museum was constructed to house the famous exhibits from the site of the Acropolis, Athens’ most famous landmark. Visitors are able to see cast copies of the west frieze of the Acropolis, as well as the Parthenon, and a photographic presentation of the New Acropolis Museum.

There’s also a scale model of the Museum’s “Parthenon Gallery”. The Gallery will house the original blocks of the frieze and other elements of the architectural decoration of the Parthenon. The new Museum in Athens will be fully opened by late 2008.

Another remarkable event this week debuts a contemporary adaptation of an ancient comedy, by Aristophanes. “The Birds”, is to open at Beijing’s National Grand Theatre.

The Birds originally was staged nearly 25 hundred years ago, shaping a Utopian ideal of a city comprised of men and birds. The contemporary adaptation, staged for the first time 47 years ago is considered a digest of modern Greek culture and a benchmark in modern Greek cultural history. It is considered the most successful post-war Greek drama to travel the world.

Greek Minister of Culture Mihalis Liapis attended the press conference announcing the events. The Minister said, “During the exhibition, I will promote an agreement with my Chinese colleagues to prevent the smuggling of cultural relics. I know both China and Greece have suffered inestimable losses from smuggling. As for the “Birds”, I believe Chinese the audience will love it. It is a masterpiece beyond time and space. We hope to showcase not only the ancient history and culture of Greece, but also it’s modern life. And you will find it all in the year of culture.”

The Greek Minister of Culture also noted that lighting ceremony for the Olympic flame for the Beijing Olympic Games will be gathered at Olympia, Greece, on March 24. Preparations already are in place.

From Aristophanes to the Acropolis, Greek culture on show in Beijing February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture, Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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Two Greek cultural landmarks were presented in Beijing yesterday. Both events are part of the ongoing Culture Year of Greece in China.

Aristophanes’ masterpiece “The Birds” opened at the Chinese city’s Grand National Theater last night. The sold-out performances are based on a celebrated production presented for the first time by Karolos Koun’s Theatro Technis at the Herod Atticus Theater in 1959.

The second event, an exhibition on the New Acropolis Museum, was inaugurated at the Hellenic House in Beijing earlier this week.

Presenting both events at a press conference in Beijing yesterday, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis expressed his satisfaction with the way Chinese audiences have responded to the Greek cultural presence. Liapis also announced a large-scale music event scheduled to take place during the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Camerata to perform in China November 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Asia, Music Life Classical.
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Athens Chamber Orchestra plays in Beijing Saturday as part of ongoing Greek cultural series

Saturday’s concert at the Beijing Conservatory of Music in the Chinese capital will feature works by five contemporary Greek composers. The Cultural Year of Greece in China series is set to run until next September.

An energetic ensemble that performs extensively both at home and abroad, the Camerata – Friends of Music Orchestra, Greece’s leading chamber orchestra, will perform in China this Saturday at the capital’s Beijing Conservatory of Music.

The show, the latest event for the Cultural Year of Greece in China, a series leading to next summer’s Beijing Olympics, will present to the Chinese public works by five contemporary Greek composers.

The repertoire includes “Kitrino potami” by Giorgos Kouroupos, a composition for soprano and chamber orchestra featuring excerpts of Chinese poetry; “A une Madone,” a project by Dimitris Terzakis for violin and strings orchestra that was inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s poem of the same name; “Kouragio” a work for strings by the Greek-American composer George Tsontakis; “Zeitgeist” by Christos Hatzis; and “Slow Motion” by Thanos Mikroutsikos. The Camerata, conducted by Nikos Tsouchlos, will be joined by soprano Maria Mitsopoulou and violinist Sergiu Nastasa.

The Camerata’s concert on Saturday will be preceded by a performance this Friday by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra with its renditions of compositions by Jani Christou, Nikos Skalkottas, Iannis Xenakis and Giorgos Koumentakis, one of the country’s more gifted newer-generation composers who was commissioned for material that graced the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympics in 2004. Also, classical pianist Dimitris Sgouros will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No 3.

Other upcoming events on the Cultural Year of Greece in China agenda include a performance by the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra next month that will be dedicated to Nikos Kazantzakis. The concert, scheduled for December 14, will feature pieces by prominent Greek and foreign composers that were based on works by the writer. Also, the Athens State Orchestra will perform in six Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, between December 27 and January 7.

Greek art in China October 27, 2007

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Modern Greek art converses with classical antiquity as part of a National Gallery exhibition that was inaugurated at Beijing’s Capital Museum on October 18.

A shorter version of Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art, part of the Culture Ministry’s Greek Cultural Year in China agenda of events in view of the 2008 Olympics, was first presented at the Cultural Centre of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in New York. The exhibition will travel to Athens in December in its full, China-specific version.

Speaking at a press meeting, Antonis S Papadimitriou, President of the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, the show’s sole sponsor, said that the choice of title could also be suitable for an archaeological exhibition. “However, the featured paintings of select classic, I daresay, contemporary Greek artists face the future and the past at one go,” he said.

Greek artists’ encounter with their roots was not a simple or self-evident affair, according to the National Gallery’s Director, Marina Lambraki-Plaka. The founding of the independent Greek state in 1830 placed Greeks’ contact with their cultural heritage on new grounds. But it was not until the end of the 19th century that Greek artists, nurtured by the academic principles of the Munich School, manifested a vivid, nevertheless short-lived, interest in the revival of the spirit of antiquity. At the turn of the century, however, the Munich School was dropped in favour of the light-radiating palette of the French Impressionists, who displayed no interest in antiquity.

“Greek art’s turn to antiquity coincides with the interwar period,” Lambraki-Plaka pointed out. “It was actually Konstantinos Parthenis who initiated the dialogue with our heavily weighing ancient heritage, urging Greek artists to set aside their reservations and begin to address the ancient world’s seductive myths and forms.”

Spanning the period from the 1920s to present day, Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art features representative works by 1930s artists such as Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Yannis Moralis and their descendants, as well as contemporary artists Christos Bokoros and Tassos Christakis.

Greek heritage, though, is not confined to classical antiquity alone, but spreads into the realm of Byzantine sources and folk tradition.

These multiple points of reference are evident in the National Gallery’s show. Parthenis’ elongated forms combine elements from antiquity and Byzantium, as well as El Greco’s art. Ghika’s Cubism-influenced compositions reflect the architectural patterns of Greek islands and the pagan spirit of ancient mythology, while Fotis Kontoglou borrows heavily from the Fayum iconography, which has also inspired the art of Moralis.

Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical approach, also encountered in Sarandis Karavouzis’ art, and Byzantine themes coexist in Nikos Engonopoulos’ art. Yannis Tsarouchis’ handsome youths and male nudes, stripped of religion-associated guilt, suggest a celebration of paganism, a quality that also permeates Alekos Fassianos’ anthropocentric paintings. Sotiris Sorongas’ turn to antiquity is used as a vehicle to address existential matters. And Bokoros comes up with symbolic compositions to suggest the longevity of painting. Greek sculpture is represented through the work of Christos Kapralos, Ioannis Avramidis and Thodoros.

Year of Greek Culture starts in China October 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Asia.
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“The year of Greek Culture in China” featuring an ambitious array of events was launched to showcase both ancient Hellenic culture and modern Greece.

Opening the event on Wednesday, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said the aim of the event was to attract global interest “by constantly presenting a flavor of Greek culture in the country which is organizing the 2008 Olympic Games“. The Minister noted that they aimed to “present the modern character and the development over history of Greek civilization to the Chinese people”. He added that the Year of Greek Culture would further enhance ties between the two countries.

The event will officially begin on October 19 with a concert featuring Greek composer Stamatis Spanoudakis’ new work “Alexander: Paths You Haven’t Travelled” at the Beijing Poly Theater.

An exhibition, named “Classical Memories in Contemporary Greek Art”, runs from October 16 to November 16 in the Beijing-based Capital Museum.

Others events include theatrical and dance performances, cinema tributes, archaeological and modern art exhibitions, opera, folk concerts, modern and popular music, conferences and book exhibitions. The theatrical performances include classical dramas with a history of over 2000 years, like Aristophanes’ comedy “The Birds” and Sophocles’ tragedy “Aias”.

Dance performance “Medea,” whose director is also the artistic director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, will be performed in May and June 2008.

As part of one-year long program, the Hellenic Cultural Center has been set up adjacent to Beijing’s Forbidden City, and activities including exhibitions, seminars and lectures will be held there.

Greek modern art in Beijing October 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Hellenic Light Asia, Olympic Games.
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The Asian capital welcomes an exhibition highlighting the artists’ relationship with their ancient legacy > Nikos Engonopoulos’s 1957 ‘Orpheus’ is one of the exhibits.

Just 10 months before the Olympic Games kick off in Beijing, a modern art exhibition in the Asian capital will highlight the relationship between Greek artists and antiquity. As the Cultural Year of Greece in China is already under way, with its official opening scheduled to take place this week, Greek Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis will inaugurate “Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art” at the Capital Museum of China tomorrow. The exhibition will run to November 16, before traveling to Greece where it will go on display in early December.

The exhibition was first showcased at the Onassis Cultural Center of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in New York in 2001, though on a smaller scale. The foundation took the initiative to support the current project, which is jointly organized by the Greek National Gallery and the Ministry of Culture. Works by a variety of contemporary Greek artists, from the so-called 1930s generation to the present, will demonstrate the different ways in which antiquity has influenced modern Greek creation.

“This exhibition is very appropriate, since both Greece and China have two of the most important ancient legacies,” said Marina Lambraki-Plaka, Director of the National Gallery, at a press conference on Monday. She explained that the dialogue between Greek artists and antiquity did not come about easily and was in essence started by artist Constantinos Parthenis after WWI, at a time when all of Europe was getting reaquainted with its local traditions. “Younger generations experience their legacy as a debt and the dialogue between Greek artists and our ancient legacy started very late. This exhibition is highly indicative of what has been happening in Greece from the 1920s to today. At the same time, it demonstrates the complex dialogue between modern Greek artists and antiquity.”

“Greece is based on its past but lives in the present, although unfortunately the latter is not very well known. This display will show that Greece has a presence today and that it produces important art,” said Anthony S. Papadimitriou, President of the Foundation.

Participating artists include members of the groundbreaking “1930s generation” movement, which revolutionized Greek visual arts and literature, as well as more recent artists. All have been inspired not only by what is perceived as the classic stereotypes of antiquity, but also by Byzantium and Greek folk culture and have depicted their experiences in a variety of forms. There are paintings by the man who had a decisive influence, both through his work and his teaching, on the development of 20th century Greek art, Constantinos Parthenis (1878-1967), by prominent surrealist artist and poet Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985) and cubist Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas among others. More contemporary artists include Yiannis Psychopedis, Alekos Fassianos and Christos Bokoros.

Besides the aforementioned artists, “Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art” will also feature paintings and sculpture by Ioannis Avramidis, Christos Caras, Tassos Christakis, Ilias Dekoulakos, Achilleas Droungas, Georgios Gounaropoulos, Christos Kapralos, Sarantis Karavouzis, Giorgos Lazongas, Michalis Manoussakis, Giorgos Mavroidis, Yannis Moralis, Dimitris Mytaras, Nikos Nikolaou, Angelos Papadimitriou, Dimitris Perdikidis, Paris Prekas, Sotiris Sorongas, Panayiotis Tanimanidis, Panayiotis Tetsis, Thodoros, Yiannis Tsarouchis and Spyros Vassileiou.