An Italian Portrait of Hangzhou
Return to Marco Polo’s Paradise
by Xian Zhang  from Hangzhou, China.


It’s summer and a group of Italian painters have arrived in Hangzhou a city 200km from Shanghai and the capital of the Nan Song dynasty. Retracing the footprints of Marco Polo, who visited 700 years ago, these Italians have come to paint the city that is my hometown. On summer break from Bocconi University in Milan I joined the artists as they created works inspired by Hangzhou that will contribute to Italy’s Chinese Year of Culture.
It is the hottest time of the year in the hottest city in China, the temperature is above 35°C (95°F) and you feel like you are in a steamer. But the heat can’t stop the Italian artists from feeling like this is a “paradiso in terra” (paradise on earth), which is exactly how Marco Polo described the city.
Madalena Mauri came with her husband. This couple has found their ideal future “son-in-law” in Hangzhou. Just kidding! But they really like the Chinese guy who guided the art group. Madalena’s paintings share one thing with Chinese art – fragility. She focuses her attention on the instant demise of things, in which she recognizes the fragility of Chinese art and finds a connection to it.
After meeting so many talented young Chinese students, Madalena wants to open an art school here. The most important thing she wants to teach is the “freedom” of art. Madalena comments on the young students she met: “They have excellent painting techniques but they don’t have space to think and express.”
It’s not difficult to tell the style Madalena wants to use in her teaching. One day when she was doing a sketch in the park, a gardening girl was so interested in her painting that stood by for a while to observe. Madalena then stopped and turned to teach the girl how to paint. The girl was allowed to change everything Madalena had already put in her work. She was very involved in teaching people, or more specifically I should say, inspiring people. She encouraged the girl to do whatever she wanted on the canvas and offered her a new canvas to start another picture in the way she wanted. She gave brushes and oils as presents to the girl hoping that she could finish her first oil painting.

Madalena Mauri with her first student in China

Maurizio Diana is the eldest man in the group. In his words he is the one who has “conosciuto tante cose” (known many things). It’s the first time he is in China. Despite his age, he eagerly pursues the “enthusiasm” that he felt in China. He said he could sense the desire for progress in Chinese society and he admired what is going on in China. I mentioned to him that we are paying the price for some out-of-control development but he maintained his view that it is a phase a country needs to go through. And for Maurizio, the Chinese people’s “little sacrifice of liberty” is not a big problem. He strongly opposes the kind of life in which people work only “just so that they can reach their vacation.” In his point of view, this way of working to raise your social status can be seen as “dying before we’re dead” That’s why this painter coming from the bella vita of Italy finds the emerging China exciting and fascinating.

Maurizio with the map of Hangzhou

Paolo Dolzan is a painter who lives in Trento, Italy. He described his painting activity as masturbation. It is only for self-pleasure and he never follows his own pleasure as a way to make others happy. He defines his works as a filter of reality. When I asked why he chose to paint a river dragon but turned it into an abstract and dark image during an in-field sketch, he said:
”The dragon is an important symbol for the Chinese and it is strongly associated with Chinese culture. And then, I added my personal components into the painting. My way of working is quite gestural and emotional. I want to present the overlapping of reality with my individuality.”
Paolo observes the similarities between European paintings and Chinese writing: “Chinese poems are full of gestures which can be the source of a picture’s nutrition. The painter contemplates the subject and defines the concept he wants to present. While the painting is a flat surface, this surface is capable of accommodating the gestures. The gestural expressiveness of Chinese poems feeds the innovation of painting.” He appreciated the paintings of Qi Baishi, the maestro of Chinese painting. ”Qi’s paintings are at the same level of writing. He develops both the forms and the contents. They are like poems.“

Paolo while painting

One distinct trait of Paolo’s painting is that it clearly expresses his individual identity. This is also a major characteristic of European painting, that is, a painter’s point of view is the base of the picture. While Paolo emphasized the individuality of European culture, he still praised the team spirit of the Chinese. He described every Chinese person as one drop of water in the sea, while the whole population constitutes the “collective ocean.”
The China that Paolo actually discovered in Hangzhou is different from his perception of it before he came. He understands the difference as a “cultural distance.” When he was in Italy his impression of Chinese culture was that it is characterized by philosophy and socialism. But when he was in China, he found it hard to understand why so many aspects of Chinese culture are now focused on a drive to the future. This is a question for the Chinese as well.

A week later, Madalena, Maurizio and Paolo left Hangzhou with memories of the people they met, the food they ate and the conversations we had. Those memories will be the source of concepts for their final painting about this tour. This October, their works will be put on exhibit in Venezia and I really can’t wait to see what my city looks like in the eyes of Italian painters!


Al mulino si gira

di Gianluca Di Maria

La caduta è il nuovo progetto della Jump Cut in collaborazione con la neonata VITACANESHOT.

E’ prodotto da Luigi Pepe.
Il film nasce da una sceneggiatura di Sebastiano Luca Insinga - co-produttore del film - ispirata all’opera di Albert Camus.
E’ il debutto alla regia di Gianluca Di Maria.

Il film verrà girato a Stenico, in provincia di Trento, in un vecchio mulino che oggi è la casa e l’atelier di Paolo Dolzan.
Si girerà dal 22 al 28 agosto 2011.
Il film verrà terminato entro Gennaio 2012.

regia Gianluca Di Maria
fotografia Jakob Stark
operatore Fabio De Felice
primo assistente László Szulyovszky 
suono in presa diretta Martin Fliri
scenografia e costumi Clarissa Serafim
aiuto regista Miriam Perricone



Esposizione Shanghai: La Creazione


The Italian Government Institute of Culture
Consulate General of Italy in Shanghai
Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Shanghai

19th fl., The Center, 989 Changle Lu
200031 Shanghai, China
l’IIC Shanghai e’ lieto di annunciare  la seguente mostra:

La Creazione
12 -26 Agosto 2011
Sala Multimediale del Consolato Generale D’Italia - SHANGHAI

Reinterpretazione in chiave moderna di uno dei temi più antichi dell’umanità, ed al contempo espressione dell’estro artistico individuale.

Opere di
Marco Bertinelli, Gabriela Bodin, Claudia Corò, Maria Di Cosmo, Andrea Del Sole, Paolo Dolzan, Marina Haas, Fabio Mariani, Maddalena Mauri, Adriana Pinosanu, Paolo Rovegno, Carlo Scialdone,Cosimo Tiso, Xin Yu. 


Dolzan in Cina

Seguendo il Cammino di Marco Polo: 100 artisti italiani dipingono Hangzhou
Assoartisti (Roma) / Hangzhou culture and entertainment brands Association
28 Luglio-4 Agosto 2011

 Museo Arte Moderna e scrittura, Hangzhou

 Scuola di scrittura, Hangzhou

Vecchio mercato, Hangzhou

Quartiere antico, Hangzhou


Organizzata dall’Hangzhou Cultural Brand Promotion Organization di Hangzhou (provincia dello Zhejiang), nell’ambito dell’interscambio artistico tra Cina e Italia, l’iniziativa «Seguendo il Cammino di Marco Polo: artisti italiani dipingono Hangzhou» è stata presentata il 7 maggio dal curatore Carmine Siniscalco con Paolo Sabbatini, direttore dell’Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Shanghai, e Laura Fincato, delegato del Comune di Venezia. L’iniziativa prevede il soggiorno di 100 artisti italiani che, ospiti nella città cinese a gruppi di 10 ogni 15 giorni, devono realizzare due dipinti dedicati alla «Venezia d’Oriente». Da novembre le 200 opere saranno esposte alla Casa dei Tre Oci di Venezia e a Hangzhou.

(Da Il Giornale dell'Arte numero 310, giugno 2011)