Text by: Fiammetta Cesana

“We build a bridge with China, instead of raising a wall like many are doing, to spread a sign of positivity and union. Against ignorance and prejudice.” These are the words of Carlo Capasa, President of Camera Nazionale della Moda, claiming the Italian commitment to involve Chinese buyers and designers in the fashion week, although they’re unfortunately confined to thousands of kilometers of distance. In fact, they will be able to virtually follow the events scheduled from February 18 to 24. “We are the first to do it, but it is an initiative open to other fashion weeks and events,” says Capasa. The fashion shows will also open with a Chinese designer, whose name is still secret.

“China We are with you” was launched to sensitize and concretely activate the world of fashion, and Italy in general, towards the battle against Coronavirus psychosis, which not only forces the Chinese people within their domestic walls, but which is also likely to bring for the first time, Capasa argues, a drop in the industry’s turnover from -1.5% to -1.8%.

To further encourage the presence, albeit virtual, of China at the Milan Fashion Week, and make up for the absence of some country’s brands that haven’t been able to complete their collection due to the closure of factories – such as Angel Chen – the CNMI Fashion Hub will show eight emerging Chinese designers who will be present by online connection.

Then, in line with this important social and economic pledge, while avoiding any direct politics-wise statements, Fondazione Prada lets art speak for itself. It was in mid-December in fact – therefore in (publicly) unsuspected times, Coronavirus speaking – that the Fondazione announced the opening of two new exhibitions in honor of Chinese art, on show from January 30 to the end of September. “The Porcelain Room – Chinese Export Porcelain” and “Liu Ye Storytelling”: two different exhibitions, which in their concomitance embrace the great themes of art today. On one side, the indispensability of the ancient tradition, precision, rigor, and decorative finality, on the other the need to explore new techniques, the use of art as a means of introspection, the abandonment to a sensual, fairytale and even ironic production.

Curated by Jorge Welsh and Luísa Vinhais, “The Porcelain Room” is an exhibition divided in three sections which collects the largest collection of Chinese export ceramics that have ever been exhibited. 

China We are with you_Fondazione Prada_The Porcelain Room - Chinese Export Porcelain

These precious porcelain furnishings, known in the world since the seventh century with the Tang dynasty, began to be exported all over the world during the Renaissance era with the Ming dynasty, thanks to the opening of the maritime routes to Asia by Portugal. The first part of the show includes indeed the “First orders”, that are the first ceramics commissioned by the Portuguese, which are very rare today (the exhibition displays 45 of them) and which present western iconographies as evidence of the beginning of the commercial relationship between Europe and China. In this initial part we also find rare porcelains destined to the Middle East, showing Arabic and Persian inscriptions. The second part, then, includes those of daily use that were commissioned by the wealthy western families in the seventeenth century to show them off during important dinners. They mainly displays images of animals, vegetables and fruits.

China We are with you_Fondazione Prada_The Porcelain Room - Chinese Export Porcelain

Finally, the third section features the traditional porcelain rooms of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries aristocratic houses, which are composed of Chinese ceramics and mirrors, enameled panels and decorations in golden inlaid wood.

China We are with you_Fondazione Prada_The Porcelain Room - Chinese Export Porcelain

After the step at Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai, “Storytelling”, curated by Udo Kittelmann, is the exhibition of the contemporary Chinese artist Liu Ye, whose works create a strong material and chromatic impact with the industrial environment of Fondazione Prada. His paintings, which he describes as self-portraits, are a truly personal pictorial universe suspended between reality and imagination, tradition and modernity, Eastern and Western culture, all linked by an overwhelming sensuality and sense of parody.

China We are with you_Fondazione Prada_Liu Ye Storytelling_The Goddess_2018
China We are with you_Fondazione Prada_Liu Ye Storytelling_Prelude_2018
China We are with you_Fondazione Prada_Liu Ye Storytelling_Catherine Deneuve_2012
China We are with you_Fondazione Prada_Liu Ye Storytelling_Bird on Bird_2011

Fondazione Prada
“The Porcelain Room – Chinese Export Porcelain”
“Liu Ye Storytelling”
From January 30 to September 28