The harmonious merging of Western and Eastern cultures through painting and music

As the 1st Edition of the EU-China Art Dialogue is about to see the light of day, the China Cultural Center is delighted to host the Walter VILAIN & YAO Yizhi “Melody” Joint Exhibition, featuring a fine selection of the most representative artworks from the latest art creations by the two artists.

On this occasion, an opening ceremony was held at the Center, gathering 150 distinguished guests, including representatives of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the EU, to attend a unique artistic and musical performance by the two artists.

Art is one amazing way to explore the full potential of cultures and to share them with a wide public. Therefore, the China Cultural Center in Brussels constantly strives to welcome new artists on its premises, either beginners or well-established, presenting new horizons of art and culture to the public.

This time, it is the work of Walter Vilain and YAO Yizhi that was put in the spotlight. The two artists have achieved a mystical level of cultural sharing throughout their careers, depicting the beautiful mixes that Chinese and European cultures can create when merging.

To inaugurate the Walter VILAIN & YAO Yizhi “Melody” Joint Exhibition in a proper way, which is also part of the 1st Edition of the EU-China Art Dialogue, a reception was held at the China Cultural Center in Brussels, hosting 150 guests. The Center was honored to welcome His Excellency Ambassador ZHANG Ming, Mr. Claes, Mr. Walter Vilain and Mr. YAO Yizhi.

His Excellency Ambassador ZHANG Ming, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, officially opened the ceremony with a thank you word: “It is my greatest pleasure to be here tonight and to have you all with us for the 1st CN-EU dialogue featuring the joint exhibition of Vilain and YAO. In China, we have two well known persons called YAO: one is a basketball player, the other one is the painter present here tonight.”. He continued with some thoughtful words: “A dialogue is not only between arts but also between artists, and especially between citizens. The friendship between the two artists is a mirror of the close exchanges between China and Europe, which go back to a thousand years ago. Chinese painting depicts emotions but European paintings is more about reality. Both cultures can add glamour to each other and complete each other.” He concluded his speech by highlighting the growing relationship between the two parties: “This year is the China-EU Tourism Year as well as the European Year for Cultural Heritage, which have continioulsy provided good basis for a fructuous friendship. The Belt and Road initiative will create even greater exchanges between our two peoples, and our partnership will become more sustainable and sustaintial. An event like this is meaningful, Mr. YAO and Vilain deserve our greatest respect.”

Mr. TAN Shu, Director of the China Cultural Center in Brussels, took the floor to express his delight to welcome this new exhibition: “As the Center wants to be a warm living room where cultures from across the world meet and merge, I am delighted to welcome Walter Vilain and YAO Yizhi, who are the perfect incarnation of a successful friendship between the East and the West, as well as a proof of what Chinese and European cultures can create when respectfully combined.”

The Director was followed by Mr. Walter Vilain, who shared deepful thoughts with the audience: “Throughout my life, I have been wondering what it means to desire, and today I can tell you the answer: to desire means to build, in every possible way, in art or in the society, so that everyone can feel happy everyday, individually or in community, and can have a home. My motto is ‘Humans at home’.”
He then paid tribute to Rembrandt, the famous Belgian painter, and explained that his own art was inspired by the deepness, the spirituality, the beauty and the peace of Rembrandt’s paintings.

Mr. YAO Yizhi then expressed his gratitude to be exhibited together with Mr. Vilain in the China Cultural Center, on the occasion of the 1st Edition of the EU-China Art Dialogue. “Mr. Vilain has taught me so much throughout the past decades. Being here tonight with him, and sharing this artistic moment with him warms my heart”.

Mr. Willy Claes, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, concluded the honorary speeches by sharing his story with Mr. Vilain, who he has known for more than 50 years: “I have met Walter Vilain in the 60’s. At that time, he was already a great and prosperous artist. Today, he still is the humble man I first met, but with a even richer soul and an impressive career behind him, which has crossed all borders of Europe.”

The artists were then invited to give a live painting demonstration, featuring Mr. Vilain’s music compositions performed by a Belgian Soprano and a pianist. During the performance, Mr. Vilain added a verbal emotional touch to his art by reading a Flemish poem and feeding the public’s souls deep emotions. Mr. YAO followed Mr. Vilain, and painted a poetic village, paying tribute to his natal home in China. Chinese diplomats gladly took part in the performances, and recited Chinese poems to the great satisfaction of the audience.

The ceremony was closed by the donation of a painting by Mr. YAO and Mr. Vilain to the Chinese Mission to the EU, which the two artists completed live by writing poems on it.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the exhibition, revealing the beautiful and meaningful artworks of Walter Vilain and YAO Yizhi to the public. By mixing Chinese and European cultures into their art, the two artists have reinforced their friendship as well as the power of their artworks, broadening and perpetuating both cultures and patrimonies to a wider audience.

The inauguration came to an end, making space for a very joyful reception. The guests exchanged their experiences, opinions and thoughts about the two celebrated cultures while admiring the paintings. Once again, art brought several cultures closer together, bringing a smile on everyone’s faces.


The exhibition “Melody” will be hosted by the China Cultural Center in Brussels until September 10th, 2018. The exhibition is accessible for free from Monday to Friday according to the opening hours of the China Cultural Center.