The Ashmolean Museum opens Xu Bing. Landscape Landscript

. February 28, 2013 . 0 Comments

The Ashmolean Museum presents Xu Bing. Landscape Landscript on view 28th February to 19th May 2013.

Xu Bing
Xu Bing, Hebei. © Xu Bing Studio.

Xu Bing has become one of China’s best known and critically acclaimed artists, exhibiting in solo exhibitions and winning awards around the world. Landscape Landscript will be the first exhibition devoted to his landscapes.

Xu Bing works in a range of media: print, sculpture, and installations involving live animals. His international success has grown in response to his ability to embed complex ideas about art and culture within accessible, playful works which engage the audience. The work which brought him initial popular recognition, Tianshu or ’Book from the Sky’ (1987–1991), a four-volume, stitch-bound book, in the style of classical texts, is filled with what appear to be Chinese characters. The text is, in fact, composed in a script invented by the artist, printed with over 4000 hand- carved woodblock characters which have no intelligible meaning. Book from the Ground (2003-ongoing), which exists as a website, an installation, a computer programme, and a printed book, is, conversely, a writing system which can be understood by anyone from any culture, literate or not. Drawing on glyphs or what Xu Bing calls ‘pictograms’ developed in a variety of contexts over the past half century, from airport signage to international brand logos and ‘emoticons’, Book from the Ground tells the story of a day in the life of an ordinary man.

Central to all Xu Bing’s art is the theme of language: its uses and changes; misunderstandings; and dialogues within and between cultures. As a Chinese artist, Xu Bing has focused particularly on the pictorial quality of the Chinese language which, he maintains, lies at the core of Chinese culture. His Landscript series uses Chinese characters for landscape features to compose landscape paintings which have the appearance of traditional Chinese landscapes, as developed since the Song dynasty (960–1279). In this way, characters for ‘stone’ make up an image of rocks; the character for ‘tree’ makes up trees; and ‘grass’ for grass and so on. Xu Bing has produced four new pieces for this exhibition which develop further his technique of using characters as brushwork. His Landscripts will be displayed alongside his early landscape sketches and prints, with more recent works which depart from traditional landscape styles. He has also selected a number of European landscapes from the Ashmolean’s collections in order to explore how different traditions interact and to throw light on the fundamental elements of Chinese culture.

Ashmolean Museum
Beaumont Street
Oxford, UK
Tel: (01865) 278000
Fax: (01865) 278018

Category: Museum News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.