A joint exhibition in Shanghai features works by Henri Michaux and Mu Xin.[Photo provided to China Daily]
A new exhibition at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai has brought together the writing and artworks of Henri Michaux and Mu Xin (the pen name of Sun Pu), both of whom shared the same passion for art, literature and exotic culture.
The Sept 9 to Oct 11 exhibition marks the debut of both artists' works in Shanghai. Jointly curated by Francois Michaud from France and Dong Qiang from Peking University, the exhibition aims to "present the inherent connection and contrast between Michaux and Mu Xin, to initiate a cultural encounter in time traveling", Dong said at the opening.
Michaux (1899-1984) is an important poet and artist of 20th-century France, while Mu Xin (1927-2011) became famous for his art and writing in China only after his death.
Michaud, a dedicated researcher of Michaux and a curator with the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, learned about Mu Xin in 2015 and had the idea of bringing the two artists together for an exhibition. He kept working on the idea for four years, until he met Dong, who decided to help make it happen.
"I have always firmly believed that Michaux's work will be shown in China," Dong said at the opening.
"I thought he would come across as one of the masters from the West, and shown alongside with them, just like in the great art museums in the world.
"I never expected, though, that his art could have been shown in such a great way, as Michaux himself would have approved－be shown in such an analogy and dialogue with a bird of the same feather from China."
Chen Danqing, a renowned Chinese artist and disciple of Mu Xin, wrote in his short essay for the exhibition: "Such is the connection between China and France, Paris and Shanghai, Mu Xin and Michaux, painting and poetry. Even the pandemic sweeping all over the world could not stop this yuanfen (predestined event) from happening."
Both Michaux and Mu Xin led turbulent lives in times of war and social disturbance. Michaux taught himself to write poems and draw graffiti. He was a fanatic lover of Asian culture and was obsessed with Chinese calligraphy.
Mu Xin, on the other hand, studied art in Shanghai in the 1940s. All his life he longed to experience European culture, and took endless walks in Paris in his verses.
"It was the same sharpness and subtlety that brought these two together," Dong says. "They crossed paths traveling toward each other in their imagination and longing."
If you go
11 am-7 pm, Tuesday-Sunday, Sept 9-Oct 11. Power Station of Art Shanghai, 678 Miaojiang Road, Huangpu district, Shanghai. 021-3110-8550.
9 am-5 pm, Tuesday-Sunday, Oct 14-Dec 15. Mu Xin Art Museum, Wuzhen, Tongxiang city, Zhejiang province.0573-8873-1158.