Letter from the Editors
Never let it be said that here at Dantemag we are parochial and conventional – we like to break down the barriers across the countries within continents and the barriers separating our great world continents, whether it be in art, travel, culture, business or philosophy, not just horizontally but vertically, namely, from a historical perspective. What can we learn from each other and in particular from our Eastern, specifically our Chinese friends? We are proud to feature as our cover article, Qin Chong, one of our foremost Chinese contemporary artists who propounds his theory of ‘Black and White-ism’. For him it is a matter of principle – how can the basic opposite poles of colour and means of filling space translate to art, to philosophy, to how society sees itself and how as individuals we use these insights to inform our lives and our behaviour? We invite two other Chinese contemporary artists to join this debate, Zhang Yu and Li Tiejun, who give their own fascinating contributions and elaborations on the debate. Not content with these three giants of the contemporary Chinese art scene, we approached one of China’s well-known philosophers, Xia Kejun and he has given us his intense insights into how the phenomenon of Black and White-ism makes us draw on previous Chinese philosophical schools of thought that instilled traditional pen and ink art from centuries ago, and how contemporary art in China must initiate a new silent and subtle revolution that reaffirms the individual investing in naturalness in the face of globalised uniformity.
George Walden, one-time UK diplomat and former Conservative politician, delights us with his personal experiences of Chinese attitudes to sex and its workers during the Cultural Revolution and how things have changed in modern China – or not!
We have so much to learn from each other – Alberto Veronesi is an Italian manager and contemporary artist who lives and breathes the East as well as never denying his deep Italian cultural traditions, whereas another leading light of business and commercial success, Nadjia Swarovski-Adams (yes, crystal chic Swarowski) uses her influence to set up foundations to support up-and-coming modern artists from across the globe – Dantemag meets these strong personalities and sees how that Chinese Yin and Yang in a proper combination can create new horizons. Art Itype takes us on a journey through the yin and yang of popular music including John Tavener and his embrace of Eastern religious themes and finds that categories are sometime there to be ignored. Michael Arditti’s latest book also successfully combines religious and secular strands to create an intriguing tapestry of modern life – Massimo Gava meets the novelist at his home in London.
The self-reflective theme continues in Stephen McCarthy’s analysis of our present economic climate and asks in which direction we should be going to stop the sleepwalking. Similarly Pamela Nowicka rouses us from our torpor on global warming while Mario Barreto urges us not to fall into the trap the Roman Empire did, and let the barbarian hordes ravage our deep cultural traditions and civilisation. The message is to treasure what we have. Ethiopia has untold treasures for the intrepid traveller and Dantemag takes you on an unforgettable journey while Marc Forget roots out a French chocolatier and rhapsodises on the delights of this Central American import. Marco Pernini, our resident chef, also roots out the black and white culinary ‘treasure’ of truffles and shares another of his mouth-watering recipes.
And last but not least in honour of our exploration of ‘Black and White-ism’, you will notice that we offer ‘Dantemag – Bianco e Nero’ or at least part of our issue dedicated to ART and in particular Chinese contemporary art. To celebrate this further Dantemag collaborated with students at the Faculty of Communication the Università Salesiana Pontificia of Rome. We asked them to come up with a possible design for our cover, with reference to the art of Qin Chong, our featured artist. We are very pleased to announce that Giovanni Davoli’s design has been chosen to grace our Dantemag ART issue. However we decided that the students’ ideas were so deserving that we have included a top ten spread inside. We would like to thank the faculty representatives and in particular Professor Alessandro Bigardi Lecturer in History of Art and Design, for their kind and invaluable collaboration on this project.
To follow our Chinese philosopher, we must learn how injecting the void together with obscuring the darkness can lead us to greater introspection about ourselves, our culture, our ways of thinking. We must silently transform in a silent revolution, open our eyes to the direction our society is going in, through a new prism, that straddles the East and the West. Enjoy our trans-cultural treat, a veritable banquet for the mind and eye!