The romantic envision of a Greek and Roman mythology beauty was given life during the extensively growing era of the Renaissance in Italy by Master Botticelli during year 1482. This first sketch spurred a whole series to come; marking an important advancement in the history of art and doubtlessly becoming one of the national treasures of Italy to this day. It is a piece of exquisite antique, but also a contributor for the new beginnings that era saw at the time between the 14th and the 17th century in Europe. Glowing with beauty and expressive skills, this piece not only marked the end of the historical Dark Age in Florence; but also shines brightly for the presence of Italy in our modern community in Hong Kong.
Brought by the Italian Consulate of Hong Kong and Macau with the Italian Cultural Institute and the University Museum and Art Gallery; Sandro Botticelli’s Venus is being displayed inside Hong Kong University from the 18th of October to the 15th of December. Welcoming art advocates, students, educators and the general public, this is a spectacular chance for artistic and cultural dialogues to be exchanged.
For such a monumental moment to take place; it is vital for enthusiastic individuals to take part in pushing for such a program to happen. Patron Ms. Pansy Ho, Cultural Heritage and Landscape Director Mr. Mario Turetta, and especially Consul General of Italy in Hong Kong and Macau Miss Alessandra Schiavo with Director of UMAG Dr. Florian Knothe must be credited.
Having the opportunity to talk to Miss Alessandra Schiavo, a greater insight was gained about this specific project and how the Venus is only the beginning to countless exciting lineups for the general public here in Hong Kong.
Unquestionably a profound artist, with one of his signature paintings being chosen by this program; the level of difficulty to obtain the permission for this piece for tour around Hong Kong and Macau is easily imagined. Why go for such a piece that can be so problematic and time consuming for the project?
That is probably exactly why we went for such a piece. Without all our efforts, it would be impossible for any other parties to take Venus out of Italy. It is not only a beautiful work of art, but an embodiment of the Italian identity; which is exactly what we would like Hong Kong to know about. For sure, we could have gone for other artist selections, even from the contemporary section; but it would not have been able to make as bold of an announcement to the crowd in Hong Kong, saying that “Italy is here!”
The painting is definitely a treasure to those who knows about art, who’s heard of the Renaissance period or has been exposed to such knowledge; but how will it go about spreading the identity of Italy to other crowds, especially to the youth sector in Hong Kong who most likely are not familiar with the painting?
Bringing the Venus is just the start of our endless programs here in Hong Kong. We are having concerts, dance performances and other entertaining programs on the rundown, ready to be introduced to the local audiences here in the upcoming months. For sure, the younger generation is also very important to us, and that is why we are not excluding any forms of modern culture like pop music, films and performances from our program. As mentioned by parties from Hong Kong University, Venus will also be used for different art workshops and educational lecture sessions.
Why specifically was Hong Kong University chosen as the venue instead of any other art galleries or spaces in Hong Kong? How long did the whole process take for organizations to bring Venus here?
We confirmed the permission of bringing Venus abroad just before summer, and everything was settled and confirmed after summer, with us being here now in October. Most of the things went about smoothly, and we cannot forget to show our gratefulness to Pansy Ho who is our patron for this project. We deliberately chose Hong Kong University because this is the first institutional here in Hong Kong, classic and timeless being much similar to the nature of the painting itself. The linkage is strong, and not to mention this venue is willing to showcase our piece on its own, with great abilities in offering educational programs inspired from the artwork to the public. We are very happy about our stop here in Hong Kong and is looking forward to Macau next.
Glossy, pretty, rare but approachable; the beautiful figure of Venus stands strong, opening doors for the culture of Italy into Asia. Tainting the East with elegance and a magical vision of what is not just a treasure for Florence; Venus’ visit is definitely the start of an ongoing glow of Italy for Hong Kong.
University Museum and Art Gallery
The University of Hong Kong
90 Bonham Road, Pokfulam
Written and Interviewed by Joyce Tsang