From September 2 to 4, the China booth at the Brussels Comic Strip Festival was a huge success! Our Chinese manhua exhibition « Illustrated concerto between tradition and modernity » attracted hundreds of visitors, and our two talented artists really impressed the public of the Festival, including Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders, who popped up for a guided tour of the exhibitions, and a meet-and-greet with Ms. Zao Dao and Mr. Zhang Weijun on Sunday.
This year, 100m² of the Festival were dedicated to Chinese manhua in Brussels Royal Park. A series of activities and animations marked the weekend: exhibitions, live drawings, drawing workshops, and many more.
Curious visitors could admire original strips from 10 of the most renown contemporary Chinese comic authors, such as Golo, Nie Chongrui, Nie Jun, Li Zhiwu, Wang He, etc. The diversity and quality of the strips particularly appealed to the visitors. A retrospective on one of the major comic character in Chinese manhua history, namely the little boy San Mao, also attracted a lot of people. Mr. Zhang Weijun, son of Zhang Leping, the creator of San Mao, took the time to meet the visitors, sign a few books and talk with passion about his father’s work and cultural heritage.
Other major events at the booth were the signing sessions and live drawings by Zao Dao. This young and talented artist symbolizes the contemporary and avant-garde scene of the Chinese artistic community. With a very particular style and talent, she mainly works with Chinese ink and watercolors. Her drawings are full of poetry and fantasy, and she really takes the time to realize every detail, in a very quiet and precise way. Zao Dao stayed imperturbable, even when a long line of readers was stretching in the Pavilion, to wait for her every afternoon of the Festival. Some of them waited for more than 3 hours before getting a signature from the artist! With a sincere willingness to not disappoint her readers, Zao Dao even stayed longer after the closing time of the Festival to offer them a personalized drawing, still with calm and serenity. Her generosity and talent surely made everyone happy, and her book quickly sold out throughout the weekend.
Kids could also enjoy the weekend. Among other things, they could follow a drawing and coloring workshop with another Chinese artist, Yang Shuran, who put all her passion to entertain and surprise the younger visitors. Kids could also watch episodes of San Mao, from the 1984 series directed by Ah Da, a Chinese animation master known for his work on silent movies. Even with no dialogues, kids were still captivated by San Mao, a resourceful young boy who is trying to overcome every difficulty in life with a smile on his face.
To conclude the weekend, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders showed up at the China booth. He took the time to visit the exhibitions and meet with the artists and with Mr. Zhang Weijun. “It is a real pleasure for me to visit the China booth and see the participation of Chinese artists. I’m very impressed to see the classical works but also the new artists coming from China”, he said during an interview to China Daily.
Hundreds of visitors enjoyed the China booth and gave very positive feedback about our activities, which were surely among the most popular within the International Pavilion of the Festival. The experience continues at our Center, with a 2-week special agenda of animation movie screenings, starting this week with “Lotus Lantern”.
We would like to address special thanks to our partners, namely the Center of International Cultural Exchange, Beijing Total Vision Culture Spreads Co., Ltd, and Atlas International Culture for the involvement and dedication to this successful initiative.