BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.- The Centre for Fine Arts Brussels presents The Forbidden Empire - Visions of the World by Chinese and Flemish Masters, on view through May 6, 2007. Two continents, five centuries of art, two kinds of visual idiom. The internationally famous artist Luc Tuymans and the curator Yu Hui initiate a dialogue between art from the southern Low Countries and China. Drawings and paintings by, among others, Van Eyck, Breughel, Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, Ensor, Mellery, and Spilliaert confront works on paper and silk from the Ming and Qing dynasties, based in the Forbidden City in Beijing, from which the Chinese emperors ruled their domains. Says Luc Tuymans, "We try to open up the dialogue via the visual image, without detracting from the two traditions. We work with 'punctuation': for example, two groups of images from Chinese art are interrupted by a Western work." How do the artists depict movement? How do they deal with distance and detail? With scale and depth? What is the importance of the narrative element? Of calligraphy and iconography? And what about the representation of shadow, the nude, the idea of original sin...?
The Forbidden Empire breathes new life into the old masters and creates a bridge to a subsequent section with contemporary art. After it leaves the Centre for Fine Arts, the exhibition will travel, in a modified version, to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City. The exhibition was curated by Luc Tuymans and Yu Hui.