Chinese artist drawn to plight of refugees

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

FLORENCE • Liu Xiaodong, the acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist, has put Europe's migrant crisis at the centre of an exhibition of new works which opened yesterday in the Italian city of Florence.

Entitled Migrazioni (Migrations), the collection features 182 multi-themed works including paintings, photographs, photo-paintings, explanatory texts and a video documentary.

It is billed by its sponsor, Florence's innovative Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, as one of the art world's most significant responses to date to the unprecedented wave of refugees arriving on Europe's southern shores.

Among the most striking works on show is a huge painting of a classic Tuscan landscape seen from the edge of a swimming pool tastefully cut into the hillside.

In the foreground, two hunting dogs look on languidly as a partly deflated piece of a black rubber dinghy bobs incongruously in the water, like the last remnant of a migrant boat sinking.

PROMISED LAND

For people in so many parts of the world, Europe is like a promised land... Even though migration has been an integral part of the history of humanity, this huge wave, this influx of refugees has definitely caused some problems for European society.

LIU XIAODONG, seen at left with a work from his Migrations exhibition

"For people in so many parts of the world, Europe is like a promised land," Liu explains.

"Even though migration has been an integral part of the history of humanity, this huge wave, this influx of refugees has definitely caused some problems for European society," he adds.

The exhibition runs until June 19 at the Palazzo Strozzi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese artist drawn to plight of refugees'. Print Edition | Subscribe