The Light of Life

Themed on “The Light of Life,” the biennale combines the spirit of fighting the pandemic and the spirit of the Olympics.
by Yi Mei
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The Restart by Giuliano Grittini, Italy, oil on canvas, 2021, 140x200cm

The 9th Beijing International Art Biennale, China 2022, opened on January 21 at the National Art Museum of China. Themed on “The Light of Life,” the biennale combines the spirit of fighting the pandemic and the spirit of the Olympics. The two are highly consistent with each other, both representing the value, dignity, strength and glory of life.

500-Day Countdown by Dmytrenko Mykola, Ukraine, oil on canvas, 2021, 200x208cm

The 2022 Beijing Biennale gathers 707 works by 573 artists from 117 countries and regions, including 487 foreign works (including those of special exhibitions) and 220 domestic works. All of these works, including paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos, are centered on the theme “The Light of Life” and demonstrates innovative, colorful contemporary art styles. The works at the exhibition feature diversified subject matters around a unified theme—audience would find lifelike realistic depiction and surrealistic romantic imagination here. For example, the fabric surface acrylic painting Towards the Light created by French woman artist Andrea links the images of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and that of Olympic Games, indicating that mankind is moving towards a bright future of life after going through the dark period of the Covid-19 epidemic. The most representative Chinese works are three large-scale thematic works created mainly by Wang Xuexian, Li Hongjun and Zhang Liang respectively—the oil painting A Sports Power of Great Dreams featuring the theme of “building a sports power”; traditional Chinese painting The Light of Life featuring the theme of “Olympic Winter Games”; and traditional Chinese painting Towards the Future Together—2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games Welcome You. The Light of Life, a thematic work by Li Hongjun, which shows the scenes of all winter sports in all competition venues vividly based on the magnificent composition transcending space-time like a gigantic mural painting and exquisite depiction of fine brushwork. The logo of 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games in the center of the picture radiates brilliant light and the formations of the athletes and people from all parts of the world on both sides reflect the spirit of unity and friendship in building a global community with a shared future.

Struggle and Hope by Rusli, Indonesia, oil painting, canvas and wood, 2021, 144x177cm

It is the first time the Beijing Biennial has met the holiday of the Spring Festival since its establishment. It is no doubt a visual feast of art for the citizens of China’s capital city and opens a window for the exchange and mutual learning between different civilizations. For those who are unable to pay a visit to the National Art Museum of China, this biennial has released an online art museum that audience can enjoy immersive visiting experiences.

Light of Existence by Wang Chaogang, China, oil on canvas, 2021, 200x200cm

Apart from the theme exhibition, the biennale also consists of five special exhibitions: The Special Exhibition of Sports-themed Works from Previous Beijing Biennales, The Special Exhibition of Giorgio Morandi’s Prints, The Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art of 12 European Countries, The Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art of Tony Cragg, and The Special Exhibition of Contemporary Art of International Female Artists. Besides, the 9th Beijing Biennale Academic Seminar was also held in Beijing alongside the event.

The offline exhibition will run through February 15th.

Still Life: An Oil Lamp (right) by Giorgio Morandi, etching on copper, 1928, 25.2x34.9cm