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Watering youngster next to Xi’an’s terra-cotta soldier

But there is more. Because of the Olympics 2008, which takes place in Beijing, the Groninger museum and the Drents Museum are working together in a spectacular project: Go China! Assen–Groningen. They have organised five expositions with architecture, archaeology, Avant Garde art and modern art of China.

New World Order in the Groninger Museum, in the centre of Groningen, is one of the five expositions. It shows the struggle of the Chinese modern artists with the fast way their country changes into an economic world power and consumption society. In one of the room stands a container with the doors open and many, many cheap Chinese toys roll out. There are paintings that show empty skyscrapers all around. When you look closely into the empty rooms, you see a couple quarrelling, or, in another painting, making love. Many times old traditional skills are being used, like the modern city built with empty eggs, all varnished. This exposition can be seen until 23 November.

A special exposition in the Groninger Museum, that lasts till 26 October, is about Chinese realists and Avant Garde artists. This trend came up right after Mao Zedong died in 1976, which meant the end of the Cultural Revolution. Artist who had to paint in favour of the Communist Party, started experimenting with all kinds of materials and expression forms. This trend ended in 1989, when the Chinese army beat down the demonstration of young people at the Tienanmen Square in Beijing. Many artists went abroad. In the nineties Chinese modern art slowly came back at international expositions and biennials. Nowadays millions are paid for modern Chinese art.

There are two more expositions in the Groninger Museum, one solo exposition of Al Weiwei, one of the most important artists of this time, who has a fascination for ceramics. The other exposition is about archaeological bronze objects from the Shanghai Museum. Really special when you take the time to discover all the precisely made decorations, many times animals, and the special forms of the pots. Both expositions are until 23 November.

In Assen, there’s the other important part of Go China! Assen-Groningen: pieces of the Terra cotta army of Xi’an. For the first time in the Netherlands. A powerful emperor, who lived three centuries before Christ, had this army made. It had to protect his tomb. Not one or two, but thousands of soldiers, with horses, bows or carts. A farmer discovered this special army in 1974 and since then it has been dug and conserved. Fourteen of these soldiers are exposed in the Drents Museum in Assen (30 kilometres from Groningen), together with other special discoveries from the grave of the Qin and West-Han dynasty. It’s in the Drents Museum until 31 August.

If you want to visit both museums, there’s a special price. Read more about Go China at www.gochinaassengroningen.nl. [PM]

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