British Olympic sculpture Anna Chromy wows China

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British Olympic sculpture Anna Chromy wows China
Now the Chinese have fallen in love with her work and are honouring her with the first solo artist exhibition for a Westerner at the hugely prestigious National Museum which fronts onto Tiananmen Square.

LONDON.- Leading Chinese art curators and VIPs have been full of praise for the sculptures and pictures of Anna Chromy, currently being exhibited in Beijing. Anna is best known in Britain for the sculpture of three athletes that stood outside the athletes village at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where the Chinese first saw her work.

In 2012 the President of the British Olympic Committee, Lord Moynihan, invited Anna to design the sculpture for the athletes Olympic village which was thought by many athletes to be lucky and as such was much touched during the games. It stood in front of the Team GB accommodation. Her artistic awards include: the Prize Salvador Dali, Kafka and Masaryk and the much coveted Premio Michelangelo – awarded to a woman for the first time.

Now the Chinese have fallen in love with her work and are honouring her with the first solo artist exhibition for a Westerner at the hugely prestigious National Museum which fronts onto Tiananmen Square. This compliment follows on from a previous Chinese visit where Anna was the Guest of Honor of the Guangzhou Arts Fair. Her sculpture, the Violinist Player, was displayed on all official announcements, posters and programs.

It is clear that she has had a major impact among key arts celebrities in China. Some of the praise for her work on display in Beijing includes these comments:

Wan Siquian, former Deputy-Mayor of Beijing, responsible for the construction of the Olympic Facilities and the National Grand Theatre: “During my time as coordinator for the construction of the Beijing Olympics 2008 buildings and the Center for the Performing Arts, I was in charge of the sculpture program as well. In all these years, I have not come across works as powerful and elegant as seen now in Anna’s exhibition in the National Museum of China. Ten years earlier and the City of Beijing would be full of her works. I deeply regret that I have only met Anna Chromy now.”

Wu Zhuyou, Director of the Counsellors Office at the State Council, says: “Anna Chromy has been welcomed in the circle of our Grand Masters. I have seen her magnificent “Silk Road” sculpture in the China Pavilion of Expo 2015 in Milano, dealing in a masterly way with the terrestrial version of the Road. I also appreciated her medals of honor for the Chinese Tea Growers Association. We will now commission her to create a symbol for the maritime Silk Road as well.”

Fang Shao, Chairman of China Central Place, Beijing’s most exclusive real estate development: “Five years ago, when I opened China Central Place, I launched a public tender for sculptures to go on our central squares. There was no proposal, which would satisfy me. Therefore, the places are still naked. I am glad to have found now, in Anna Chromy, an artist whose works do justice to the beauty of our buildings and will add an extra European touch to them.”

Wu Weishan, Director of the National Art Museum of China in Being, Director of the City Sculpture Committee of China, Director of the National Sculpture Academy, Commissioner of Anna Chromy’s exhibition in the National Museum of China, and one of China’s greatest sculptors, comments: “Anna Chromy and I have become good friends who talk about the deepest thoughts in our mind. Anna is actively engaged in China’s City Sculpture development and has participated in several projects. She loves our Eastern philosophical masters Lao-Tzu and Confucius, which in her words “give her energy for her conscience project. I feel that her art is a research on the questions of life and death and the quest for the ultimate value of our existence. An approach which has her made many friends in China”.

Wang Chunchen, Head Curator of the Art Museum of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Assistant curator of the Broad Museum in Los Angeles and Curator of Anna’s exhibition in the National Museum in Beijing: “Anna Chromy’s sculptures testify to her classical culture with its universal value of divine life. It is this set of values which contemporary art should transform into new creations. Building on the past imagining the future. For me there is no better description of Anna Chromy’s works. Her exhibition in Beijing gives us a great opportunity to connect to classic European paradigms and inheritance. She is the perfect example for our young sculptor generation. In an increasingly virtual world, without roots or boundaries, it is important to give young people something to touch and to relate to.”

Today one can criss-cross Europe and never be far from an Anna Chromy sculpture – she has more sculpture on public display than any other living artist. They range from Farnham in Surrey to Luxemburg, Stuttgart, Prague, Salzburg, Munich, Monaco, Milan, Menton, Pisa, Florence and Bologna and for two months in 2005 her works dominated the Place Vendome in Paris. In Portofino, Italy, her “Dancer” graces the famous yacht harbor and in Pisa the “Myth of Sisyphus” stands as the symbol of the University.

Anna Chromy says: “My work starts with respect for the classical sculpture of Greece and Rome as well as that of Michelangelo and Bernini. The spirit of humanity and our relationship to nature that is central to their work is what drives my own creative process. So it was with interest and fascination that I saw the same principals embodied in Chinese art as I began to understand it. This has encouraged by belief in my artistic mission and has made me so grateful and humble to be acknowledged in China by this distinctive honour of a solo exhibition at the National Museum of China. I hope with all my heart that my work will in some way help to build cultural bridges between east and west. That would be the most wonderful legacy.”

As a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris she met Salvador Dali. “One day our class was invited to meet the Master at Hotel Meurice, in order to show our first works. There he was sitting next to his wife Gala, my undisputed hero and example to follow in my art. When it was my turn to show a painting to the Master he took it in his hands and disappeared for a moment into another room. When he reappeared he commented the work with the words: “You are not a women. This is the first time I see a woman paint like a man. Knowing his opinion that women were lacking creativity, I took this as an enormous compliment.”

Beijing Exhibition organiser Shao Wei, Chair of the British Chinese Collectors Association, comments: “Anna Chromy’s exhibition in the National Museum of China is a great event for the Beijing art circle this autumn. I hope all those who love art will feel and share the joy and impact that these selected works of art bring to us, together with this outstanding painter and sculptress. May her love, her talent and the beauty that she has created live forever and enrich the world we are living in. This is the first time that the National Museum of China has hosted an art exhibition for a single foreign artist. From the centre of the European Renaissance to the ancient capital of China, from Michelangelo’s valley to the National Museum of China, the two long and celebrated civilisations meet in the golden autumn in Beijing with this outstanding exhibition – a collection of sculptures and sketches by the world renowned artist Anna Chromy.” China’s Sunshine Insurance Group is the sponsor.

In Europe, one of Anna’s well known public works is of the Austrian Conductor Herbert von Karajan which stands in front of his birthplace in Salzburg. It was unveiled in 2001 in the presence of his widow Eliette von Karajan, the President of the Salzburg Music Festival, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Ricardo Muti. In 2003 Anna was awarded the “Prize Salvador Dali” and the “Kafka Medal” from the Europe Foundation in Prague - previous recipients include the movie directors Steven Spielberg and Milos Forman.

Anna Chromy detests immobility as a symbol of death wrote the art critic for Le Figaro, Philippe Cruysmans, and indeed her love of music and dance is much in evidence in the movement of her statues. Salvador Dali once said: “Lack of movement is the least one should expect from a statue.” And indeed Anna’s sculpture takes that minimal requirement to its ultimate – her sculpture may not move but they certainly don’t lack movement.

A painter for many years Anna suffered a catastrophic accident in 1985, which had a profound effect on her. It sent her in an entirely new direction as she recovered, that direction being sculpture. And the move to sculpture has created something monumental - the Cloak of Conscience.

On a special day in June 2005, at the mass for her 40th wedding anniversary the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Saint Francis in Assisi asked Anna if she could conceive the Cloak as a space of meditation, according to the words of Saint Francis “to use in the absence of a consecrated space our own body as a place for prayer and contemplation”. This was the moment that launched the project that Anna had cherished since her first painting of the Cloak, - to create the “Stone-Guest” as a universal symbol of conscience in a dimension never attempted before. To carve this chapel into one single block of white marble Anna had to wait for a whole year until she received on Christmas Eve 2006 the news that the famous Michelangelo quarry in the Apuan Mountains in Tuscany had finally given birth to a piece of marble weighing 250 tons.

One has to wonder if the Chinese are trying to send a message to the West by honouring Anna Chromy. Maybe we too should touch her works for luck and hope that this exhibition presages a new entente cordial between East and West.

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