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For the 40th anniversary of the Europalia festival, Belgium places itself under the sign of China with nearly 50 exhibitions and 450 shows

CHI Peng Sprinting Forward, 2004 © CHI Peng

Europalia, one of the first European cultural festivals, with over one million visitors at each edition, has succumbed to the fascination of the Middle Kingdom. Even though China is present everywhere, both in the media and in our every day life, just how much do we know about the culture, the art and the philosophy of this great civilisation? Following the Olympic Games and prior to the Shanghai Universal Exhibition in 2010, europalia.china wants to unveil, beyond the persistent clichés, its most authentic aspects and to present a centuries-old art of living in face of globalisation and technical progress, sixty years after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Nearly 50 exhibitions and 450 shows will be structured around four major themes: eternal China, contemporary China, colourful China and China and the rest of the world. Each theme will be illustrated by a major exhibition. These events are organised together with 210 partners, in 75 towns and 5 countries, with the participation of over 1000 artists.

The magic of the emperors

Son of Heaven, at the Centre for Fine Arts(10 October 2009 - 24 January 2010), for eternal China, is dedicated to the sacred figure of the Emperor, represented by the nearly 200 «sons of heaven» the successive sovereigns from twenty dynasties. Some of the most beautiful masterpieces of the Chinese, 5-thousand year-old patrimony will be on display. The links created between the Europalia festival and the Chinese authorities have allowed the organizers to bring some unique pieces, never shown anywhere before, from the Zhou’s ding porcelain in the West to ceremonial furniture from the last Mandchurian sovereigns.

  • CENTRE FOR FINE ARTS Rue Ravenstein 23 - 1000 Brussels
    (Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 – 18:00, Thursdays until 21:00. Closed on Christmas and New Year’s days)

    Illustration: Portrait of Emperor Qing Kangxi, (1662 – 1722) © Palace Museum  

    The explosion of contemporary art

    The State of Things: Brussels / Beijing, also at the Centre for Fine Arts (18 October 2009 -10 January 2010), illustrates contemporary China. Chinese artist AI Weiwei and Belgian artist Luc Tuymans offer, in collaboration with FAN Di’An, the director of the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, a dialogue between Chinese and Belgian artists. Through a well-thought out selection of works, the organizers reflect on the relation between the artist and the art market, between creation and marketing, in the Chinese context of a constantly evolving country, faced with all its contradictions, and the small and very complex Belgian situation.

    Illustration: © BOZAR

    The secrets of calligraphy

    The Orchid Pavilion, The art of writing in China, at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (14 October 2009 - 31 January 2010), symbolises the third theme, colourful China. The history and the importance of calligraphy for the Chinese culture are traced through a historic event, a key-moment in the history of this art, the calligraphy at the preface to the Orchid Pavilion (353).

  • ROYAL MUSEUMS OF FINE ARTS OF BELGIUM Rue de la Régence 3 – 1000 Brussels (Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 – 17:00. Closed on 1st November, 11th November, Christmas and New Year’s days )

    Illustration: Copy of Preface to the Orchid Pavilion, by Chu Suiliang, Tang Dynasty; Original work by Wang Xizhi, Eastern Jin Dynasty, 353 © Palace Museum, Beijing

    Along the Silk Road

    The Silk Road, at the Royal Museums of Art and History (23 October 2009 - 7 February 2010) shows China, whether at the gold age of the Silk Road, or in our globalised world today, as the large merchant power and the major cultural influence it has always been. The Chinese invented and perfected technologies that changed our world when they reached Europe after their long journey to the West: silk, paper, printing material and porcelain. The exhibition narrates these fascinating cultural and technological exchanges in a pre-modern world and mentions the spectacular landscapes and the peoples of North-Western China.

  • ROYAL MUSEUMS OF ART AND HISTORY Parc du Cinquantenaire 10 – 1000 Brussels (Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 – 17:00. Closed on 1st November, 11th November, Christmas and New Year’s days)

    Illustration: Girl asleep on a camel, Tang © Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology


  • Expo Book, catalogue covering all the exhibitions of the festival. 528 p, 600 ill. in colour.
  • Son of Heaven, directed by QIAN WEI, Jean-Paul Desroches and Ilse Timperman. 256 p, 256 ill. in colour.
  • The Silk Road, directed by Susan Whitfield, 256 p., 200 ill. in colour.
  • The Orchid Pavilion and the Art of Writing , directed by Jean-Marie Simonet and André Kneib, 192 p., 248 ill. in colour

  • INFORMATION: Website : www.europalia.eu
  • Inge De Keyser Tel: +32 (0)2 504 91 3 E-mail : inge.de.keyser@europalia.eu
  • Séverine Buyse Tel: +32 (0)2 504 91 37 E-mail: severine.buyse@europalia.eu