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Robert van Gulik and Chinese Culture, Refined Enjoyment of Elegant Leisure

The Royal Asian Art Society in The Netherlands (KVVAK) and China Cultural Center Den Haag are delighted to present an online cultural program: Robert van Gulik and Chinese Culture, Refined Enjoyment of Elegant Leisure, to explore Van Gulik’s practice of the Chinese arts and his fascination for the taste of the Chinese Literati (scholar-officials who also wrote poetry, practiced calligraphy and painting, and played music). Robert van Gulik 高罗佩 (1910-1967) was a well-known Dutch writer, sinologist and diplomat. He is famed for bringing back the Tang dynasty hero Judge Dee in his historical detective novels, which enabled readers around the world to delve into and experience the traditional Chinese way of life. This programme coincides with the current exhibitions on Robert van Gulik’s Chinese art practice and collection at the Rijksmuseum and the China Cultural Center Den Haag.

The interactive afternoon will be broadcasted live from China Cultural Center Den Haag and will feature tours of the respective exhibitions on show. A keynote lecture, Song of Wind in the Pines, will be given by the son of Robert van Gulik, Willem van Gulik. His talk will focus on the guqin (Chinese zither) and its place in the world of Robert van Gulik and the Chinese literati. The guqin has a history of more than 2000 years and was the favourite instrument of the Chinese literati and imperial aristocrats, who played it for self-cultivation. A performance of Flowing Water will be given by Cheng Yu, the director of the Youlan Qin Association on the guqin which belonged to Robert van Gulik. The programme will end with a special screening of the award-winning film On the Track of Robert van Gulik, followed by a Q&A with its director Rob Rombout. In this film, he takes us on a journey between reality and fiction, between the writer, the scholar and the diplomat, and between the Dutch and Chinese identity of Robert van Gulik.

Refined Enjoyment of Elegant Leisure will not only celebrate Robert van Gulik and the Chinese Literati as a source of knowledge, inspiration and creativity, but it will also pave the way for a wider dialogue between the Netherlands and China.

Time: April 10, 2021 01:00 PM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna – 13:00 hrs. CEST
Join with: Zoom
Meeting ID: 297 070 4667
Join the live streaming session on: Facebook


Also available in PDF

12.45 hrs. Online walk in

Moderator: Rosalien van der Poel (Board member KVVAK)

13.00 hrs. Welcome by Pieter Ariens Kappers (Chairman KVVAK),
Huang Hongchang (Director China Cultural Center Den
Haag) and Fei Yuliang (Chinese Art Collector)

13.15 hrs. Reflections on the KVVAK Young Scholars’ Symposium Rethinking Robert van Gulik: New Perspectives and Approaches
Anne Gerritsen (Chair of Asian Art Leiden University, KVVAK)

Online tour of ‘Robert van Gulik and his Passion for Chinese Art’ at the Rijksmuseum
Ching-Ling Wang (China Curator, Rijksmuseum)

Online tour of ‘Refined Enjoyment of Elegant Leisure’ at the China Cultural Center Den Haag
Marie-Anne Souloumiac -Van Gulik (Independent Curator)

13.35 hrs. Keynote lecture ‘Song of Wind in the Pines’
Willem van Gulik (Professor Emeritus, Leiden University
Institute for Area Studies, son of Robert van Gulik)

13.55 hrs. Music performance Flowing Water (on Robert van Gulik’s guqin)
Cheng Yu (Director Youlan Qin Association)

14.00 hrs. Closing words of part one

14.10 hrs. Tea break

14.30 hrs. Film On the Track of Robert van Gulik by Rob Rombout

16.00 hrs. Discussion by Zoom with the public with Rob Rombout moderated by Marie-Anne Souloumiac

16.30 hrs. End of programme

*China Cultural Center Den Haag
Robert van Gulik playing the guqin
Courtesy of Robert van Gulik Estate

*About China Cultural Center Den Haag:
China Cultural Center Den Haag is a non-profit cultural institution set up in the Netherlands by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of People’s Republic of China. It is dedicated to fostering the cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and the Netherlands.