Italian artist in Beijing contributes to cultural exchange between China and Italy

Italian artist Jacopo Della Ragione Photo: Courtesy of Jacopo Della Ragione

Italian artist Jacopo Della Ragione Photo: Courtesy of Jacopo Della Ragione

The flexible golden lines stretch across the canvas, showing a strong energy and vitality… At the ongoing “Borderless” exhibition in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, Italian artist Jacopo Della Ragione’s work with Conquista has attracted many viewers.

“Each of my pictures is a microcosm of life. I spent almost half of my life in China. How could I not put my experiences in China in my pictures?” Jacopo told the Global Times.

During his works, Jacopo applies layer upon layer of acrylic paint, which is similar to what he knows about China in the last two decades – from an almost empty beginning to what he now calls “something more”.

Artwork by Italian artist Jacopo Della Ragione Photo: Courtesy of Jacopo Della Ragione

Artwork by Italian artist Jacopo Della Ragione Photo: Courtesy of Jacopo Della Ragione


Born and raised in Florence, Italy’s capital of art, Jacopo loved art from an early age. As a student of Medieval History at the University of Milan, Jacopo took a master’s course in graphic design and printing technology.

Before arriving in China, Jacopo knew almost nothing about China except for Marco Polo’s adventures in the mysterious Orient in the twelfth century. “My grandmother came from Venice and lived next door to Marco Polo’s house.” Jacopo joked that his connection to China came through his grandmother.

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Intrigued by China, Jacopo moved to Beijing in 2001. “I planned to learn about China for two weeks, but later found that there was not enough time. I have lived here for more than 20 years.”

Jacopo first worked as an art and creative director for design and advertising agencies and media companies in China before quitting in 2018 to become a full-time artist, mostly creating abstract paintings.

Architecture, music, traditional art…everything in China can inspire Jacopo’s art. “Everything I do comes out of what’s always happening around me.”

He painted it in traditional colors to express his love for the five elements of Chinese philosophy: iron, wood, water, fire and earth, traditional Chinese culture, and the oldest of Chinese classics such as the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination text. .

“My work is very strongly related to Chinese calligraphy. It’s interesting that many calligraphers have said that my work is very close to calligraphy, but they look completely different.”

Jacopo’s happiest moment was when he became interested in some visitors who did not understand modern art after viewing his art and realized that art was part of their lives.

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“I want them to find their own relationship and connection with art. It’s interesting that sometimes people look at them and say that it all seems to have a lot to do with traditional Chinese art. When they say that, I’m surprised because I see it. I, their opinion the request may affect me later.”

Artwork by Italian artist Jacopo Della Ragione Photo: Courtesy of Jacopo Della Ragione

Artwork by Italian artist Jacopo Della Ragione Photo: Courtesy of Jacopo Della Ragione

Enabling dialogue

The 46-year-old artist, who has lived in China for more than two decades, said that he admires the country’s rapid development. He recalled that when he first arrived in Beijing, there were only two subway lines, but now there are more and more subway lines that can reach almost every part of downtown Beijing.

Jacopo said he sees great potential in modern Chinese art, especially through young Chinese artists who have played a huge role in preserving and reviving China’s deep traditional culture.

While studying at the Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts in Chongqing, southwest China, he met many talented graduate students who, he recalled, “create modern art but have not forgotten the history and art history of their country.”

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In addition to artwork, Jacopo sometimes helps curate exhibitions, offering a platform to experience the unique appeal of Italian culture. In 2022, he participated in several art exhibitions and displayed his works in some art exhibitions, such as the Art and Environmental Sustainability-Matter and Ecology Seminar-Exhibition held in Beijing on the occasion of the China-Italy Year of Culture and Tourism. In 2023, he wants to increase dialogue between artists, cultural institutions and academia.

“My idea is that people can look at each other’s work and through that create opportunities for dialogue and mutual understanding. That’s it,” Jacopo said. Road Initiative (BRI).

In 2019, Italy signed a memorandum of understanding with China to jointly advance the development of the BRI, becoming the first of the Group of Seven countries to join the initiative.

Jacopo has now planted roots in Beijing. “China and Italy have similarities. We both value family. I was born in Italy and live in China. China is my home now, and I will continue to work and live here.”


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