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Exhibition offers new way to see Chinese culture

By Fu Jing and Wu Nian in Brussels | | Updated: 2018-02-20 00:59

A half-year-long exhibition themed "A Panorama of Chinese Comic Strips—Connected Images from Abroad" opened at the Belgian Comics Art Museum last week.

A total of 95 strips with a total of 350 frames, most of them manuscripts provided by authoritative Chinese art organizations, are in the exhibition. The works span from the 20th century up to the present day and cover several genres, including calligraphy and illustrated legends.

"The exhibition extends a panorama of Chinese comic strips by theoretically summarizing the tradition of Chinese comics and prospecting its future in the same time," Jin Cheng, the consultant for the exhibition said at its opening.

"It also epitomizes the lives of Chinese in 20th century, illustrating the humor and philosophy of Chinese people in different social contexts, especially how people's looks gradually evolve after 40 years of reform and opening-up."

Jean-Louis Mignot, a former Belgian ambassador to Slovenia, pointed to the cover of his own collection Chinese-language Belgian comics The Adventure of Tintin and said: "One drawing is more than thousands of words. It's sometimes more difficult to find a word, but with one drawing, everybody understands.

" … It's a kind of exchange of ideas through drawings."

A Chinese Life, nominee of Angouleme International Comics Festival, which narrates the life of the author under a background of the up-and-downs in the Chinese society, has been translated into more than eight languages and circulated around the world.

Juge Bao, the story of an upright and honest justice in Chinese history has gained popularity in Europe before being published again back in China.

To localize Chinese comic strips for the European audience, Chinese comic strips such as A Chinese Life and Juge Bao were co-written with European scenarists, which is a common format of comic creation in Europe.

"If Chinese artists can be cultivated through this cooperation format and later master the plots of comics by themselves in the European market, then Chinese comic strips will be more competitive," said Jin Cheng, who is the vice-director of Animation and Art Committee of Chinese Artists Association.

Jean-Claude De la Royere, the Belgian curator of the exhibition believes the comic strips will offer something to people who are not familiar with comics and those wanting to delve deeper.

"The Chinese market is very important for the museum," De la Royere said.

Around 5 percent of 220,000 annual visitors to the museum are Chinese. Around 40 percent are from France, and 17 percent from Belgium.

De la Royere said: "We welcome more Chinese visitors than we have now."

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