At Musée Guimet, “Guardians of time” celebrate the year of France-China in red!

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Jiang Qiong Er, is dressed in a Shang Xia chale, the design brand she created for Hermès and stands in front of one of the red pillars of the hall

Yannick Lintz, the dynamic president of Musée Guimet, is a fervent lover of China and to celebrate President Xi Jinping’s visit to France on 6-7 May,  for the inauguration of the France China Year, she asked Shanghai artist Jiang Qiong Er to disguise her museum into a bright red monument. It is even visible from the Eiffel Tower! The façade of the 19th century building is entirely covered with red grottos, where mythological Chinese spirits are hidden. And an AI installation makes them come out of hiding three times a day at noon, 6 pm and 8 pm. I wonder if this will create many car crashes on place d’Iéna? Inside the museum, columns are painted in red and a meditation room is set up under the top cupola with 5 000 tea bricks on the walls which smell wonderfully. The show is a perfect combination of the past artistic traditions and contemporary technics and celebrates in style, sixty years of friendship between the two countries.

Jiang Qiong Er, “Introspection”, a meditation room with Roche-Bobois armchairs designed by the artist and painted stones in the center of a wall made of 5 000 tea bricks

Jiang Qiong Er, 47, grew up in an artistic family in Shanghai. Her grandfather was an important painter and her father Xing Tonghe designed the fantastic Shanghai museum inaugurated in 1996. She started painting very early on, and after studying in China, came to Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, in 2000. She focuses on the magic of time passing and on the importance of the past in today’s art. Her first pieces bought by Musée Guimet in 2016 gave her a special relationship with the museum and it was fun to hear Yannick Lintz and herself describing their intense friendship over the last year (a very short time to prepare such a large show), full of passion and enthusiasm. She is also a designer and created with Hermès the very refined clothes and decoration brand of Shang Xia, and more recently a line of armchairs with Roche-Bobois.

Musée Guimet’s façade is covered with red gauze and grottos which contain “Gardiens du Temps” spirits

When you enter the fairly dreary building, the hallway is immediately light up by the columns covered in red for the occasion. This festive color is also visible on the façade, which is entirely lined with a red gauze, and ornemented grottos, inspired by those of Mogao, Yungang, where twelve spirits hide. Jiang remembers going to visit them when she was 11 and loving them. There are also twelve bronze statues, cast by the artist, set in a circle inside the library created by Emile Guimet. In each space, music conceived by Jiang entices you to reflection and peace. My favorite room was the top floor cupola where you are invited to sit in a cage/armchair and listen to the music while contemplating a garden of painted stones with the fragrance of the tea leaves.

“Equality”, bronze cast from a 3D mould, 2023 in Emile Guimet’s historical library

In late May, the terrace will have a vast net on which “nü shu” poetry, a language used exclusively by Chinese women in the past, written by 60 women, will be embroidered in metal threads. This again combines history and present, in a sensuous and spiritual experience, where sound, smells and visual beauty are united. Jiang Qiong Er’s fabulous personality and charm and Yannick Lintz originality have found in their project a perfect connivence. They publicly admitted to having become great friends over the last year while working together and they will celebrate in June with a big feast on the terrace.

Make sure to see this show and, of course, visit the rest of the galleries which have the foremost collections of Asian art in France.

The wall made of tea bricks under the dome gives the room a wonderful smell

Until March 2025. You can see all the events attached to the celebration of the France China Year at Musée Guimet with Richard Kan‘s collection of monochrome porcelains, from June 14 to September 16, and Ming silver treasures in the fall. Numerous Chinese museums will lend their masterworks to show them with the Guimet collections, and films, concerts and colloquiums are organized all year long in the auditorium.

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