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Magical works of 'monk' Morandi

THREE works by Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964), considered one of the world's great still life painters, will be exhibited from September 9 to 12 at the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

Morandi, sometimes called "the monk," is known for his subtle and contemplative paintings of everyday objects found in his dingy apartment studio in Bologna, Italy, which he seldom left.

The three canvases, together valued at 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million), are on loan from the Morandi Museum in Bologna, as well as photographs of Morandi's studio.

"There is perhaps no Western artist who has come closer to the poetry and subtlety of the Chinese artistic tradition. Morandi is quiet art at its most powerful," said Colin Chinnery, the art director at ShContemporary.

Securing the paintings was no small task, considering insurance, transport and security.

"I was thrilled to learn that Morandi's paintings will finally be showcased in town," said Wang Yuhong, a local realism painter. "I admire his art spirit and his personal character."

From the metaphysical paintings of his early years to the nearly abstract canvases made in the 1960s, Morandi engaged in a lifelong attempt to seize reality through the familiar. The consistency and intensity of this investigation has made him the quintessential "artist's artist."

Morandi, who lived alone, used the same simple subjects, including bottles, boxes and the view from his window, staging a seemingly endless array of variations.

"His paintings appear to transcend time and place, an effect he achieved by removing labels from his bottles, faces from his clocks and people from his landscapes," Wang said. "I doubt that many artists today could enjoy solitude as Morandi did."

The retrospective for Morandi includes a full-day's workshop on September 11. The workshop is jointly organized with the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou where Morandi's techniques have been studied by years.

Gianfranco Maraniello, director of the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna, will provide an in-depth look at Morandi's work.

Chinese art professionals will discuss the impact of Morandi's work on Chinese art.

The Morandi exhibition is part of ShContemporary, one of the biggest art fairs in Asia. This year it has attracted around 80 galleries to take part in.


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