Leonardo da Vinci – and the French – cure COVID, for a night

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The most important thing about the French Consular event was that it happened.

Real people. In a cinema. In Hong Kong. Networking. Chatting. Then watching the coolest people ever to look at art discussing the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

“Une nuit au Louvre” was the first real consular event in Hong Kong since COVID broke in 2020. HT certainly hasn’t been to any others. The French Consulate followed all the rules and had perhaps 50 people in the Pacific Place cinema for a rare showing of an intense documentary showcasing the 2019 Léonard da Vinci exhibition at the legendary French museum. 

It is part of a broader programme of showcasing French culture around the world. In France, historical chateaus and buildings in private hands open their doors to the public in the third week of September for la publique to enjoy. In Hong Kong, the doors of the Louvre opened for a select few to savour the Louvre at night. Across Hong Kong, the Heritage Days showcase examples of French heritage in buildings across Happy Valley and the rest of the city.

It must be remembered that this showcase of humanity sees the vast majority of people enter through a monument created by a Hong Konger – IM Pei. The pyramids that form the grand entrance were created by the same Hong Kong boy that designed the HSBC headquarters and only left us last year at 102 years old.

The curators present a theory that all da Vinci’s manifest genius was oriented towards his one true passion: painting. Two years studying human anatomy and skeletal structure? Study of physics? Light? Chemistry of pigments? All in service of presenting the world in paint. In the film, the arresting images and careful consideration of his work lend strong support to their thesis.

It was a pure delight to be out in the company of other people in the evening and HT’s companion was dressed for the French – exquisitely and fashionably. Cornerstones of French society – for example, the new publisher Catya Martin – were spotted in high spirits and braving pandemic for the cause of high art.

The Consul General, Alexandre Giorgini, was ecstatic in greeting the assembled. It’s not clear if he understood how pioneering his consulate was in gathering the select few to appreciate da Vinci’s genius, but he was clearly possessed by the joy of sharing the art assembled by his countrymen. As long as the French continue to take delight in sharing their genius in the arts with the rest of the world, la reste du monde will choose to celebrate with them.

Consul General Mr Alexandre Giorgini greeting the screening audience with vigour.
The 2019 Léonard da Vinci exhibition at The Louvre.

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