Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023


“Art Macao” is an international art event organized by the Macao Special Administrative Region Government integrating resources from various sectors in the S.A.R., aimed at congregating global creative forces to produce a city-wide signature biennale event. Renowned curator Qiu Zhijie is the chief curator of “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023”, which has adopted the theme “The Statistics of Fortune” to reflect on the expectations and concerns caused by the development of science and technology and explore the clashes and interactions between science and religion. From summer to autumn, through eight sections, namely the Main Exhibition, Public Art Exhibition, City Pavilion, Special Exhibition, Invitational Exhibition by Local Artists, Local Curatorial Project, Art Exhibition of Higher Education Institutions and Collateral Exhibition, 30 art exhibitions will be presented across the city, in a showcase of modern and contemporary masterpieces that are zestful and representative, by over 200 artists from more than 20 countries and regions, allowing visitors to experience the breadth and depth of art while at the same time embarking on a grand aesthetic journey. The objective is to raise to a new level the cultural and artistic atmosphere of Macao as a famous World Heritage city. 


“Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023” Message

“Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023” will be held this summer, offering a three-month visual feast across the city, with a wide range of art events, diverse works and creative exchanges. A series of world-class exhibitions will become a great cultural force, turning Macao into a dazzling platform for international art exchange and highlighting the social prosperity propelled by culture.

“Art Macao” has generated a cooperation model among the Government, enterprises, artists and the public to enrich residents’ daily lives and optimise the cultural ecology of Macao with the help of global art resources. After the past two editions, the project has become a new brand of cultural tourism in the form of the “Macao International Art Biennale”. This year, in addition to on-going collaboration with integrated resorts, consulates general of different countries in Hong Kong and Macao, and higher education institutions from mainland China and Macao, there are several special sections for local curators, artists and companies, which will further publicise local creativity and lay a solid foundation for the development of Macao’s cultural and creative industries. It allows residents and tourists to enjoy a feast of art, but also engages them in the diversified development of the industry.

In recent years, the Macao S.A.R. Government has been actively building the city as “a base for exchange and cooperation, where Chinese culture is mainstream and diverse cultures coexist”. Macao as a portal will continue to promote cultural exchanges, actively enhancing the use and transformation of cultural resources, empowering innovation, and facilitating the “culture +” development. To accelerate industrial transformation, the S.A.R. Government has been engaging all walks of life, especially by integrating the strengths and forces of Macao-based integrated resorts. “Art Macao” is a great example of gathering international artists and resources that demonstrate the vitality of the humanities, pushing ahead with the city’s diverse development and its novel “culture +” integration.

I would like to congratulate the curators, artists, and the participating and supportive organisations on the grand opening of “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023” and express my sincere gratitude to them. I hope that through “Art Macao”, we can unleash the city’s cultural dynamics and innovation to the world. 

I wish the event a resounding success!

Ao Ieong U
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region

“Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023” Preface

Beautiful things occurring in a city make it beautiful.

“The beauty of a single blooming flower is far less attractive than that of many flowers blossoming together.” To present the great beauty of various arts from different origins, the Macao Special Administrative Region Government created “Art Macao” in 2019. By integrating resources from various sectors, the project aims to connect with international art trends, cultivate local creative forces, integrate multi-cultural perspectives, and strive to produce a signature international art biennale with both historical and cultural depth and contemporary humanistic breadth. 

Renowned curator Qiu Zhijie is again the chief curator of Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023, which has adopted the theme “The Statistics of Fortune” to reflect on the challenges and opportunities in the world. Over 200 contemporary artists from more than 20 countries/regions across the globe will embark on a large-scale aesthetic exploration of science and religion. From July to October, through eight sections, namely the Main Exhibition, Public Art Exhibition, City Pavilion, Special Exhibition, Invitational Exhibition by Local Artists, Local Curatorial Project, Art Exhibition of Higher Education Institutions and Collateral Exhibition, nearly 30 art exhibitions will be inaugurated one after another across Macao, turning the city into an arts paradise interwoven with aesthetics and philosophy. 

The Main Exhibition at the Macao Museum of Art (MAM) brings together more than 100 works by 42 artists from more than 10 countries in Asia, Europe and America as well as mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, which include paintings, medical photography, AI works and large multimedia installations. From the contemporary reconstruction of ancient myths, artistic presentation of philosophical concepts, figurative reflection on human-machine relationship, to the bold assumption of the life structure... The clash of ancient and modern ideas and the fusion of Chinese and Western imageries will certainly trigger infinite imagination and profound inspiration. 

The Invitational Exhibition by Local Artists is a joint exhibition of works by local artists, commissioned by Macao’s six integrated resorts. A showcase of local creative elite forces, its representativeness is self-evident. It is even more meaningful in terms of promoting collaboration between corporates and artists.

The Public Art Exhibition presents six outdoor pieces produced by artists from China, Israel, the US, Mexico, South Africa, India, the UK, and Korea. The application of optical principles and natural elements, combined with religious symbols and cultural totems, has resulted in a series of artistic explorations weaved into the local cultural ecosystem, which is ingenious and thought-provoking.

The Special Exhibitions organised by the six integrated resorts include art shows by Chinese-born artist Hsiao Chin (Xiao Qin), London-based graffiti artist Mr Doodle, and Japanese trendy brand BE@RBRICK, as well as dialogues beyond time and space with Da Vinci, a tribute to Disney iconic characters, and a virtual tour from the Palace of Versailles. Being both intellectual and fun, all these can become excellent cultural tourism offerings highlighting Macao's leisure appeal.

The City Pavilion will show thematic exhibitions by four Eurasian cities, including: Vila Nova de Cerveira, in Portugal, famous for its international art biennale; London, a metropolis full of experimentalist architectures; Kyoto, both rich in traditional art atmosphere and innovative spirit; and Shenzhen, the “city of design”. Each city’s unique urban culture would have a wonderful chemical reaction with the theme of this edition, thus fostering a unique section with distinctive individuality and rich imagery.  It not only accentuates the diversity of “Art Macao”, but also becomes a highlight of this Biennale.

The Local Curatorial Project is an important project of the S.A.R. Government to promote the development of local arts. It provides a stage for local curators and artists to showcase their ideas and talents, aiming at stimulating creativity and is indeed a wonderful event to look forward to.

The Art Exhibition of Higher Education Institutions attempts to improve the creative atmosphere among local youth by inviting the four major art academies from the mainland to participate, to promote inter-school cross-disciplinary art exchanges, while injecting more innovative vitality into the Macao International Art Biennale to boost its growth.

Finally, the Collateral Exhibition is a new section aimed at encouraging the industrialisation of local arts, inviting established commercial galleries and institutions to enrich their own artistic experience and increase public awareness to the local art market.
In a word, “Art Macao 2023”, focusing both on the most cutting-edge and oldest human issues, has made breakthroughs both internationally and locally: not only have been created the Invitational Exhibition by Local Artists, the Local Curatorial Project, and the Collateral Exhibition, but also has significantly increased the proportion of works by international artists, thus expanding access to the global art network. This important initiative taken by the S.A.R. Government will further develop Macao into “a base for exchange and cooperation, where Chinese culture is mainstream and diverse cultures coexist”, with the objective to enhance cultural and tourism experiences in Macao as a “world centre of tourism and leisure”. It will develop the city's creative DNA and give strong cultural and artistic momentum to the long-term development of local cultural industry.

This year, from summer to autumn, Macao will become an arts garden that “blooms with the beauty of diversity”. Let’s encounter it in every corner of the city and share this beauty.

Leong Wai Man    
President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region

The Statistics of Fortune — “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023” Chief Curator’s Note


The arrival of Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit missionary, in Macao in 1582 was a milestone in the history of cultural exchanges between China and the West. In China, Ricci collaborated with Li Zhizao and others to draw Kunyu wanguo quantu (Complete Geographical Map of Ten Thousand Countries) and dedicated it to the Ming Emperor Wanli. He also cooperated with Xu Guangqi to translate part of Euclid's Elements of Geometry, thus starting the process of the dissemination of modern Western scientific knowledge in imperial China. With Matteo Ricci identified as a Jesuit missionary, science precisely came along with religion.

Macao's unique geographic position has put it at the forefront of global exchanges of knowledge, religious beliefs and customs. Buddhism, Taoism, A-Ma Beliefs and European Catholicism have been practiced side by side in Macao, by the Chinese people and various foreign communities with different faiths, thus shaping the city’s distinctive character of coexistence in diversity. In modern and contemporary times, the emergence of the gaming industry has tempted people to investigate further into destiny, fortune, chance, and fate. Hence divination, as well as dispelling evil spirits at home (Zhenzhai), and geomancy (Kanyu), have become more prevalent in our daily lives.

Besides, Macao is a place where modern science and traditional thought have collided forcefully. Filled with legends of devils and gods, the city has also been disenchanted with the rise of modern science. The power of instrumental reason, trade, and money, coupled with military power enabled by modern weaponry, have for centuries removed darkness in the spiritual world, reshaping humanity into a new species that believes in evidence, data, and statistics. In China: A Macro History, historian Huang Renyu (Ray Huang) laments the failure of governance in traditional Chinese society, arguing that its main drawback was failing to administer by numbers. By contrast, the modern world is one governed by numbers, measurements, and statistics.

The history of science is intertwined with that of human spirituality. The Abbasid House of Wisdom, (Bayt al- Ḥikmah) aka Grand Library of Baghdad, fostered science in the Islamic Golden Age; roughly at the same time, Yixing, a Tang dynasty monk successfully measured the length of the meridian line. Isaac Newton was both the world’s first scientist and its last alchemist. In 1818, in Venice, English writer Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, considered the last Gothic novel and the first science fiction. The history of science is full of the Cartesian demon, Maxwell’s demon and Laplace demon. Meanwhile, today Fengshui and geomancy (Kanyu) are being turned into environmental and ecological sciences, while divination and fortune-telling are being shifting to forecasting by big data, providing guidance on marriage, employment, and the choice of a home. People’s biggest concern today is whether AI is growing into new demons, and whether gene editing is creating unsuspecting monsters.

Modern natural science is based on empirical experience and statistics, with the latter helping to consolidate the power of trade and money. Today’s artificial intelligence (AI) and big data give full play to the role of statistics. But trying to predict the future by divination and other means is also grounded upon the underlying statistical knowledge. Therefore, a similar foundation is shared by both folk beliefs and rationality.

Themed on The Statistics of Fortune, the “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023” aims to explore the correlation between science and religion. Since ancient times “scientific” research has been closely linked with religious activities and a lot of mysteries remain unsolved in the annals of science. Conversely, religious activities often tend to look empirical, and underline the role of the mind as an interactive element in statistics. Having said that, here we follow works of art that explore religious traditions in a new light and those reflecting on the history of technology from a profound, humanistic perspective.

Qiu Zhijie 
Chief Curator of “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2023”