20 September 2017

When Armando meets classic Chinese art

Exhibition Made in China shows close regional ties and cultural collaboration between the Netherlands and China.

Left: Li Jian (1747-1799), Right: Armando, Landschaft 19-07-07. Courtesy: MOA

Starting from September 23, Museum Oud Amelisweerd, Utrecht (MOA) will present the exhibition Made in China – Armando & Masterpieces from the Qing dynasty, which punctuates the culmination of the museum’s year-long collaboration with Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, China.

The exhibition derives from the very own history of the country estate in which MOA is located. The well-known 18th century Chinese wallpaper in the house will be joined by extraordinary objects created in China from the same period, including lacquerware, fans, textiles, ceramics and silverware. Gem of the exhibition is definitely a fantastic eight-slice screen decorated with golden paint.

Besides, Made in China also showcases 18 top paintings made and collected by Chinese elites throughout Qing dynasty (1644–1912). This is the first time in history that a Dutch museum dedicates attention to autonomous classic Chinese painting on such scale. The bold adoption of ‘made in China’ as exhibition title – the somewhat synonym of neo-liberalist mass production of our current age – metaphorically adds on a reflective layer to highlight the value and delicacy of ancient Chinese art made for its own market, especially when comparing to the export oriental art that the west is used to see. 

MOA's iconic collection, legendary Dutch artist Armando's work, will be juxtaposed with the Chinese paintings from Guangdong Museum. The curators discovered that interestingly, Armando's view on landscape has many similarities with the Chinese tradition. Armando is one of the few Western artists who make vertical landscapes, with similar ratio to the one used in Chinese scroll paintings. Moreover, the invalidity of mankind, same as for the Chinese paintings, is an important theme in Armando’s oeuvre. Made in China will show 12 works of Armando, ranging from drawings with east Indian ink to landscapes.

Utrecht-Guangdong ties

MOA's collaboration with Guangdong Museum started from 2 years ago when director Ms. Yvonne Ploum joined an economic and cultural mission of Utrecht Province to visit its ‘sister’ Chinese province of Guangdong. This resulted exhibition well exemplifies close regional ties and cultural collaboration between the Netherlands and China, which is one of the focuses stimulated by DutchCulture. 

‘MOA and the Guangdong Museum found each other in our collections in the areas of Chinese wallpaper, export art and 18th century landscape painting. We agreed to share and consequently enlarge our knowledge and skills with regards to these collections. The first concrete result of our cooperation is this exhibition.’ says Ms. Yvonne Ploum, director of MOA.

Made in China is on view until 18 March 2018. Next year, Guangdong Museum will bring MOA's Armando collection to the Guangzhou audience.

* On 29 September, MOA will invite former Dutch national team table tennis player, journalist and writer Ms. Bettine Vriesekoop to share her Chinese experience at MOA-Café, a regular educational program of the museum. Click here for more information (in Dutch).