Chinese precious-stone carving artworks exhibited in Athens

by Valentini Anagnostopoulou

ATHENS, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- An exhibition featuring 100 Chinese decorative objects dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) has opened door this week at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens.

The artworks of the exhibition called "Chinese works of art from the I. and D. Passas Collection" belong to the Foundation of Greek collectors Ioannis and Dimitra Passas.

Made of precious and semi-precious stones, the artworks present the little-known Chinese art of precious-stone carving to the Greek public.

"It is very important that this exhibition is taking place during a period when the relations between the two countries are at a very high level," said Greek Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni during a press conference on Wednesday.

The minister, who attended the opening, said, the Passas collection exhibition can be considered a forerunner of the vast array of cultural events that will take place in the context of 2021 Sino-Greek "Year of Tourism and Culture".

"In the framework of all our meetings, it became very clear that the Chinese deeply wish to further strengthen ties with Greece in the field of culture. It is a firm belief not only of Chinese officials, but of the people as well, that the Greek and Chinese are connected by their civilizations," she said.

According to the minister, China and Greece have many common points in the ancient philosophy of the two peoples.

Efi Meramveliotaki, the curator, told Xinhua that visitors to the exhibition will have a better understanding about the symbols of the artworks through reading the exhibit panels.

"All the objects you see here are symbols of good wishes, such as longevity, prosperity, offspring," said Meramveliotaki.

The visitors will have the chance to take a closer look at delicate masterpieces depicting heavenly deities, human figures and mythological animals, elaborate vases and decorative vessels made of various precious stones and corals.

In addition to the Chinese miniature sculptures, the exhibition also presents three paintings by Efstathia Milaraki, distinguished Greek painter and lecturer at China's Guangxi Arts University. Milaraki, a young artist, has spent many years working in China.

Her works, inspired by both classical Chinese paintings and the contemporary, boldly-lit night-time Chinese landscape, creates a dialogue between painting and sculptures.

Parallel to this, the interplay between visible and ultraviolet light is harnessed for a unique display combining Chinese sculptures carved in fluorite and works using the painter's unique chromatic palette.

"The spectators can see these works in two ways in order to emphasize this combination of Chinese and Western painting, by putting together two basic features: the two dimensions of China and the three dimensions of the West, which are rooted in ancient Greek painting," said Miliaraki.

"The initial thought behind these combination works was to find a different way to present Chinese painting to the Western public," she added.

The exhibition will be running at the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens until April 19, 2020.

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