Works by a quintet of Chinese and Irish artists on display in Beijing celebrate cultural collaboration and the 40 years of diplomatic relations between the Middle Kingdom and the Emerald Isle.
Odyssey: The Return, on show until April 22 at the Dong Yue Art Museum, is inspired by James Joyce's Ulysses, one of the greatest novels in world literature.
Ulysses is a complex book that takes place in the course of a day in June 1904. It's set in Dublin and based on Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, a classic masterpiece of ancient Greek literature that chronicles the 10-year journey home of the legendary Odysseus, king of Ithaca, following the fall of Troy.
The Odyssey's major theme is that of a journey, and the works in Odyssey: The Return reflect that.
"Our journey as artists is in this exhibition," said Fion Gunn, an Irish artist whose works are featured in the show with fellow Irish artist Niamh Cunningham and Chinese artists Gulistan, Li Xinmo and Chen Qingqing.
Gulistan, who teaches at Capital Normal University in Beijing, said travel and journeys are important in art and in life. "I want to let my students know that art isn't just for the studio. You've got to experience it, to meet people in real life," she said.
The exhibition's opening ceremony drew about 80 art enthusiasts on Saturday. Among them was Eoin O'Leary, Ireland's ambassador to China.
"We're delighted that the exhibition is here," O'Leary said, noting the longstanding friendship between the two countries. Among the fruits of that relationship in Dublin are the annual two-week Spring Festival celebration and the Confucius Institute.
Another outcome of the bilateral relationship is that Beijing and Dublin, Ireland's capital, are sister cities in the Beijing-Dublin twinning program.
"We are both cities that value and nurture culture. Culture is central to human development, central to our quality of life and our relationship with each other," said Nial Ring, lord mayor of Dublin, in a welcome penned for the exhibition's program.
On Monday, the artists will participate in a panel discussion, "What has James Joyce Ever Done to You?" at 7:30 pm at The Bookworm in Sanlitun. Professor Fu Hao of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who has translated all of Joyce's verse, will lead the event. Admission is 80 rmb and seats can be booked at https://yoopay.cn/event/39898814.