Italy's finest carve a niche

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 January, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 January, 1993, 12:00am

ART critic Nigel Cameron believes Cecco Bonanotte's sculptures are metaphors, offering ''pictures of life's dilemmas.'' It's a tempting view, for while Bonanotte leaves faces almost expressionless, the bodies he fashions convey immense and often painful emotion.

Above all, they are superbly crafted - reason enough to visit the Rotunda at the Exchange Square, where the sculptures, being exhibited under the Arts Festival umbrella, can be seen till the end of next month.

It's the 33rd exhibition at the popular venue - and the first to show the works of an Italian sculptor.

The singular honour is deserved. At 50, Bonanotte is one of his country's finest contemporary talents, while echoing the great traditions of Italian sculpture.

Trained at Rome's Academy of Fine Arts, he scooped the sculpture prize at the First Art Exhibition of Italian Students, held in 1960.

It was the start of a brilliant career marked by numerous awards and commissions - the latter including his Scultura Polimaterica in honour of the Michelangelo 500th centenary celebrations and his Tightrope Walkers for Japan's Shiminoseki Art Museum.

Bonanotte's sculptures have also made splendid gifts. In 1985, Pope John Paul II gave one to the United Nations, and in 1988 the Italian Parliament donated another to Parliament House, Canberra, in honour of Australia's Bicentenary.

JOHNSON Chang Tsong-zung gave a broad hint of his latest obsession at last year's Art Asia.

Now the director of the Hanart TZ Gallery has revealed it in full with China's New Art, Post-1989, which opens tomorrow at the Exhibition Hall, Low Block, City Hall and at the Arts Centre's Pao Galleries on Wednesday.

The exhibition, being presented as the fine arts showpiece of the Arts Festival, features more than 200 paintings, sculptures, installations and other works by 51 artists. All add up to a powerful message - China's new art is helping to shape the China of the 90s.

Much of it reflects the immense social, political and economic upheavals of recent years. There is also a distinctly subversive - and often wryly humorous - message in many of the exhibits from a generation of artists striving to counteract their country's mostly tame ''official'' art.

The co-curator is controversial Beijing art critic Li Xianting. Together with Johnson Chang, he has mounted a stunning display which will not be confined to Hongkong.

Following the Arts Festival, China's New Art, which comes with a 300-page full-colour catalogue, will move on to museums in Australia.

FOR sheer exquisite detail, there will be little to beat the exhibition being held from Monday until February 8 at the Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hongkong: on show will be 70 traditional Japanese dolls created from different materials and representing different periods in history.

The beauties are just the tip of an iceberg which will be felt territory-wide till March 8. It's the 1993 Japan Festival in Hongkong, which will be officially opened by the Governor, Chris Patten, at the Hilton Ballroom on Monday.

Following the show of dolls will be a sumo tournament featuring 40 of Japan's top wrestlers (Hongkong Coliseum, February 6 and 7), and a bevy of other entertainments including an ikebana demonstration, a tea ceremony and two of the Arts Festival's key attractions - Butoh Dance by Kazuo Ohno and the Chijinkai Theatre Company.