BYZANTINE Exhibition in MALTA – 20th March, 2005

AN EXHIBITION of more than 100 original oil paintings by the internationally renowned Chinese artist Li. Zijian. was shown at Gallery G, Villa Gourgion, Lija (near the church). A smaller exhibition of his works was also held at the Sentinella Hall in Victoria: citadel.

The exhibition was the first event to be held with the support of the Byzantine Cultural Autonomy Foundation, which was set up by Lady Sara Kuo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Asia Pacific & Grand Chancellor of Imperial Byzantine Order of the Star of Asia.

Li Zijian, who grew up in China during the excesses of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, has lived in Los Angeles since the late. 1980s. His exhibition, which was called Humanity and Love, has toured cities in all continents.

He was born in 1954 in Shaoyang City in China’s Hunan Province, the sixth of eight siblings. During the Cultural Revolution, his father, a successful businessman who grew up in abject poverty, was blacklisted as an enemy of the people, thrown into prison and his business interests seized. The family’s posses­sions were taken and dispersed, and their friends and neighbours were forced by the Red Guards to ostracise them.

Despite the horror of his early life, Li Zijian’s work is suffused with joy, tranquility and colour.

There is one notable exception: a vast canvas that depicts the 1937 Massacre of Nanjing, when many thousands of Chinese civilians were slaughtered by Japanese troops.

When the Cultural Revolution ended in 1975, and the Li family was ‘rehabilitated’, Li Zijian was finally allowed to enter the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. China began to open its doors to external influences, and he found himself exposed to artistic develop­ments in the rest of the world. In 1988, he was admitted to the graduate programmer of the Massachusetts Art Institute in the USA. He has lived in the USA ever since, and is now a permanent resident.

Former President H.E.de Marco and the Minister of Tourism and Culture were invited for the formal opening of the exhibition.  Both delivered congratulation speeches in front of more than 200 guests including the Chinese Ambassador Liu and other political business and cultural persons attended the Exhibition. According to the President de Marco, this is the largest exhibition unprecedented in Malta. H. Ex. de Marco also praised Sir LIJIAN as an “Eastern Caravaggio “