Stepping through the courtyard to Yishu 8 I was greeted by Mona Hu, representing Galeries Lafayette, who guided me through one of the more peculiar entrances I have seen; a dark aquamarine wall with circular mirrors bubbling out from its surface, reflecting the faces of various media representatives who had gathered to see 'Tea and Wine: A Shared Passion'. As we moved past it we were all urged to tour the central exhibition space at our own pace before the guided tour began.

Yishu 8, formerly the Sino-French University location, was the perfect space to host a celebration of 50 years of Sino-French diplomatic relations. Indeed it is proud to boast its cultural prominence having played host to many China-European dialogues in Beijing.

The central hall we walked into projected a masterfully constructed short-film showing a dialogue between Jean-Claude Berrouet and Master Tseng, both well revered people in their specialized cultivations (wine and tea respectively). The main space was well balanced, exposing the stunning crystal glasses from French masters as equals to the wide porcelain examples gathered from Chinese history.

It was amazing to see this mirrored development, where two countries of opposite spectrums developed both a sort of vessel and liquid into cultural significance. A recreation of the historic 1938 meeting of Kings between England and France sat at the back, and highlighted the inclusion of European/UK interests.

All informative vernaculars on display were in French and Mandarin, so for a native English speaker such as myself navigation was purely visual. This didn’t detract from the essence of the exhibition, and I found it refreshing to see proper lighting and illusory tricks of space utilized. Two smaller side spaces played host to large ceramic sculptures with video projections of people, showing the importance of tea and wine development in a uniquely interactive way.

Towards the conclusion of the tour I was given an in-depth introduction to Bordeaux wine from Cynthia Chan (la Bordeauxthique), and Anita Huang (Pont Des Arts). Both women had an abundance of Bordeaux knowledge and gave me insights into the various appellations within the Bordeaux region, an area of special interest in France given that it can produce a significant amount of variations due to its extensive soil combinations.

A game was held at the bar where four corks had been infused with different natural additives used to extend the flavors in Bordeaux (I won’t give away the answers here) that I enjoyed, though with only one out of four guesses correct I might need to reconsider my future as a wine connoisseur.  

No matter your native tongue, you will benefit from attending this well composed exhibition that highlights the positive and beneficial cooperation between two countries through an impressive display of historical constructions.

The exhibition runs from May 19 to July 16. More information can be found by clicking here.

A special thank you to Mona Hu and Galeries Lafayette for the invitation.

Photos: Erin Strong

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog