Exhibition unveils beauty of Chinese Jiangnan gardens in Versailles

Updated: Apr 19, 2024 By Zheng Zheng Print
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The "Wandering in the Gardens of Jiangnan" exhibition at the French stop opens on Wednesday at France's Versailles Palace. [Photo/]

The "Wandering in the Gardens of Jiangnan" exhibition at the French stop opened on Wednesday at France's Versailles Palace, attracting visitors to experience the beauty of Chinese gardens art up close.

This five-day exhibition in Paris, hosted by Tongji University from Shanghai, is one of the first in a series of Paris events for the "Our Water: Flowing from Shanghai — Intercultural Dialogues among World Cities" project under the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism.

As one of the early originators of garden art, China holds a significant position in the history of world gardens. The gardens in Jiangnan, the region south of the Yangtze River, embody the profound spirit of Chinese culture.

This exhibition spotlights the cultural exchange value of appreciation across cultures, curating the beauty of Chinese gardens in Versailles through two sections of "Garden Scenes" and "Garden Realms".

The "Garden Scenes" showcases historical evolution, garden-building philosophies and traditional crafts of five iconic Jiangnan gardens — Shanghai's Yu Garden and Fangta Garden, Suzhou's Wangshi Garden, Wuxi's Jichang Garden, Yangzhou's He Garden in Jiangsu province — through historical materials, models and multimedia displays.

The "Garden Realms" section features works from four Chinese and French artists in mediums like photography, painting and artistic installations, transporting viewers deeper.

The opening ceremony was graced by a performance of the Kunqu opera "The Peony Pavilion", accompanied by flute, bringing the rhythm of Chinese culture to life.

"I have never seen such charming Chinese garden art before. The lingering flute melody reminds me of 17 years ago when my family and I traveled to China, starting a special connection with the country. I am deeply moved and amazed by this wonderful experience of Chinese gardens," said a visitor.

"Eastern and Western gardens are the product of different views of nature. Our exhibition brings the Chinese Jiangnan gardens to the west garden of Versailles to immerse everyone in the charm of the traditional gardens of the two nations," said Professor Zhang Ming, curator of the exhibition and director of College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University.

"As we grapple with urban development challenges, these ancient insights, both in the East and West, offer guidance on creating humanistic, eco-conscious public spaces to serve the public," he added.

"Our Water: Flowing from Shanghai — Intercultural Dialogues among World Cities" is a city promotion initiative launched by the Information Office of Shanghai Municipality. Its first season aims to foster Shanghai-Paris dialogue on areas like ecology, urban development, arts and socioeconomics, celebrating 60 years of China-France diplomatic ties.

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