On behalf of the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, I would like to wish the presentation of China as the country of honor at the prominent Curitiba International Biennial 2017 in Brazil a grand success.
Cultural dialogue pulls hearts closer, increases mutual knowledge and strengthens bonds of friendship between nations. Since the 16th century when China and Brazil first encounter each other’s culture despite vast oceans in between, the two countries have conducted cultural interactions, especially in recent years, as cultural exchange and cooperation have been increasingly enriched and upgraded to help foster a solid bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership. Moreover, the success of the Year of 2016 China-Latin America Cultural Exchange Year ushered in a new high for China-Brazil cultural relations.
China and Brazil are both proud of our cultural wealth. During its 5,000-year history, the Chinese nation has created brilliant and profound traditional culture that is open and inclusive, embracing our deepest intellectual pursuits. It ensures the linage, development and growth of the Chinese nation, and adds to the splendor of the treasure house of world cultures. Brazilian culture also presents a very diverse and assimilating nature, which gives it a unique charm. Since the “modernismo” in the 1920s, in particular, Brazil has boasted renowned master artists including Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer, the “Picasso of Concrete”, whose classic constructions embodies novelty, elegance and wisdom in their distinctive, swooping, gravity-defying styles.
Visual arts stimulate communication and interactions between arts and society with images and visual experiences, and the presence of visual arts is significant in the heritage and intellectuality of the humanity. This year’s Curitiba International Biennial 2017 will feature 238 pieces of artworks chosen by the Ministry of Culture of China as representatives of China’s contemporary arts at the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, one of the largest museums in Latin America. This display will be the first of its kind ever curated on this continent, a milestone of China-Brazil visual arts exchange. The exhibition will offer the Brazilian visitors a refreshing experience of Chinese art inspired by traditional cultural elements, but reinvented with bursting creativity that follows international fashions of contemporary arts, and an opportunity to feel the artistic dynamism of China and find resonance and empathy. Together, the artworks celebrate the image of a modern, progressing, creative, amicable and future-oriented China reflected in a wide range of expressions, perspectives and contexts.
China-Brazil cultural relations show promising prospects, as both countries present rich, dynamic and flourishing cultures. We look forward to seeing more synergy between the two countries in our cultural dialogues and collaborations which are open, inclusive, reciprocal, and win-win, as advocated by the Belt and Road initiative and BRICS cooperation mechanism. The growth of our mutual knowledge and people-to-people friendship based on full respect to cultural diversity, shared values and cultural understanding will forge stronger bonds between China and Brazil as two member states of BRICS community of common interests and destiny, and underpin social and public foundation for China-Latin America cooperation.
Luo Shugang, Minister of Culture of People’s Republic of China
The Sino-Brazilian cultural exchange on a new level
China was chosen, for the first time, as the Honored Country to celebrate the 24th edition of the Curitiba Biennial. This is an important opportunity to China to get know the best of Latin American art and, specially, Brazilian art; as well as an excellent platform for our friends of Brazil and other nationalities to closely enjoy Chinese contemporary art.
More than sixty artworks produced by artists from all over China were meticulously selected for this exhibition. Such works present heterogeneous expressions and diverse ideas, fully reflecting the creativity and continuity of the contemporary Chinese art, as well as its tradition and modernity, and its ethnic and cosmopolitan character. Further to the Chinese production showcase in the artistic arena, our exhibition represents also a microcosm of a dynamic and thriving China.
The homage to China at the Curitiba Biennial also illustrates a cultural exchange that’s growing larger and deeper between the two countries. In recent years, I’ve witnessed the increasing interest and enthusiasm of both cultures in knowing and understanding each other. Activities such as Cultural Month, Film Week, photo exhibitions, shows and fine art exhibitions, as well as the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and other sporting events, have contributed to mutual understanding and rapprochement. That’s how the foundations for bilateral cultural exchanges are strengthened, creating new mechanisms and a broader horizon.
This exchange is based on diversification, tolerance and harmony. Geographical distance and differences at the political, economic, social and cultural fields not only grant a special value, but also provide a solid foundation for our mutual learning. A closer look at the humanistic spirit reveals similarities between the two countries. China has developed, over the course of a five millennia history, a sense of humanity centered on brotherhood and benevolence, on an ideology of governance guided by ethics and balance, on an aspiration for peace and good neighborliness, and on a concept that values harmony in differences. On the other hand, as a melting pot of ethnicities, Brazil embraces all cultures in an eclectic, open and inclusive way, respecting diversity and persisting in the ideals of independence, equality and justice. According to a Chinese saying: “mountains and seas are not obstacles for those who share the same ideals”. The common humanistic values create sympathy between the two peoples, composing the background for our cultural exchanges.
This exchange is driven by a burgeoning bilateral cooperation. In the economic and commercial area, trade figures reached more than US$ 67 billion in 2016, while China maintains its position as Brazil’s largest partner, country that in turn remains as China’s largest partner in Latin America. The increasingly robust Chinese investment in Brazil has already accumulated a volume of US$ 40 billion. The constant trade has increased the demand to improve mutual knowledge, and cultural exchange serves precisely to that end. One of the examples is the increasing demand for Mandarin classes. Currently, there are 10 Institutes and 4 Confucius Classrooms with more than 20 thousand enrolled students, making Brazil the country with the largest number of these institutions operating in Latin America. Several elementary schools began to include Chinese to their formal curriculum. In China, more than 30 universities offer Portuguese language classes, one of the most sought after by young Chinese. These actions play an irreplaceable role on promoting friendship between the two peoples and on boosting the relationship between the two countries.
This exchange is assisted by the strong support and vigorous promotion of both governments. The friendship between countries is born from a closer relation between their people and this relationship has its roots on sentimental ties. As a basis to foster the civilizations’ harmony and shared prosperity, human exchange focuses on sentimental communication, which lasts more than political consultation and is deeper than trade. Both President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang consider cultural exchange activities to be of utmost importance. During their visits to Latin America, they’ve announced initiatives such as scholarships in China, the program “Bridge to the Future” destined to train a thousand of young leaders from China, Latin America and Caribbean, as well as the creation of a China-Latin America Press Center to train professionals of communication. These initiatives provide guidance and assurance to keep the flow and mutual learning.
We have an even more promising prospect ahead. In the near future, we should broaden and deepen these exchanges at all levels. With regard to governments, we should take full advantage of the role of the COSBAN Cultural Subcommittee (Sino-Brazilian High Level Committee on Coordination and Cooperation) in order to put into practice the consensus reached by leaders and carry out the action plan on the installation of cultural centers and its themes. In terms of civil society, we need to expand channels to promote cooperation in culture, education, sports and tourism, strengthening our historic friendship. We’ll develop commercial and nonprofit projects to foster partnership among cultural industries, arts education, shows, audio-visual production, literary translation and institutions, such as museums, libraries and those of cultural heritage. As to the artists, they are welcome to attend events like the International Fair of Chinese Culture and Arts, and the Biennials of Beijing, Shanghai and Curitiba, in order to learn from the outstanding achievements of both cultures, giving new impetus to innovation and progress.
I believe that, with the efforts of government, civil society and artists, the cultural exchange will continue to fulfill its fundamental role of guiding the comprehension and friendship between these peoples through platforms such as the Curitiba Biennial. These actions will further consolidate public opinion in favor of bilateral cooperation and enrich the content of the Global Strategic Partnership between the two nations.
Li Jinzhang, Ambassador of China to Brazil