The famous stories of Chinese hero, the Monkey King, will make an appearance at Expo 2010 Shanghai, but they won't be at the China Pavilion.
The stories will be one of the highlights at the Czech Republic Pavilion, which will feature artwork and illustrations by Zdenek Sklenr, a Czech artist whose fascination for Chinese culture and interpretations of Chinese classics, including the Czech version of the Monkey King, helped him become famous in both China and in the Czech Republic.
In May and October, the animated Monkey King will be a main attraction at the Czech Pavilion at the Expo. In one area of the multimedia hall there is a table with an open copy of the book Songs of Ancient China, a collection of ancient poems featuring Sklenr's illustrations.
The tabletop becomes a projection screen, where the battle of the Monkey King against demons takes place. The hall also has an interactive touch screen, where visitors see the fairytale world of the Monkey King come to life in an exciting combination of old legends, graphically and artistically unique Sklenr illustrations, and imaginative animations.
Sklenr's fascination with China began on a trip in 1955, when he traveled here as the head graphic artist in a touring exhibition of Czech culture. He visited Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangdong.
"Back in 1950s, there were a lot of cultural exchanges between the Czech Republic and China. Nowadays, the younger generation in China may not even know where the Czech Republic is in Europe," said Zdenek Sklenr, the legendary artist's namesake and nephew.
During the three-month visit, Sklenr senior met with Chairman Mao Zedong and developed life-long friendships with famous Chinese painters and artists, including Qi Baishi, Li Keran, Guo Moruo, Ye Qianyu and Hua Junwu.
The visit to China had a huge impact on the artist and he began bridging the cultures of China and the Czech Republic through illustrations, drawings and books. He published the Czech version of the Monkey King, with 24 color and 81 pen and ink drawings, in 1960, interpreting the famous Chinese fiction, Journey to the West, in a Czech artist's style.
He also published The Treasure Chest - Ancient Chinese Love Stories, and the Czech version of Return of the Old Master by the famous Chinese poet Guo Moruo.
In 1965, The Songs of Ancient China, a collection of ancient Chinese poems, was published in the Czech Republic, featuring 21 of Sklenr's color illustrations. The artist died in 1986.
Commemorating his uncle, Sklenr established the Zdenek Sklenr Gallery in Prague in 1991 and has been dedicated to arts and culture exchange between China and the Czech Republic ever since.
Having traveled to China more than 60 times, the curator of Zdenek Sklenr Gallery, like his uncle, thinks China is very beautiful. "I traveled a lot inside China and I like the scenery of Guilin the most," he said.
In 2009, the National Art Museum of China held a well-received exhibition, Zdenek Sklenr's China, with the debut of a film as a tribute to the artist's contributions.
To commemorate the artist's 100th birthday, the Prague City Gallery and Zdenek Sklenr Gallery held a retrospective exhibition in Prague this year and the animated film the Monkey King, was made.
After 50 years, Sklenr and his Monkey King are returning to China, reminding Expo visitors about the exciting and artistic connection between the cultures and societies of China and the Czech Republic.
"For me, doing the cultural exchange job is not easy, but we managed to find certain people in China who had a profound and special emotions towards the Czech Republic," Sklenr said.
"I hope the Monkey King and other artwork from my uncle will become a bridge linking the friendship between the two nations."