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Ambivalent Landscapes: More than Representations

September 2022 to February 2023
Humboldt Forum

Right across East Asia, 山水, or “mountains and water”, is the designation for classical landscape painting. While mountains and water do usually form the constituent elements of works of landscape art, what lies behind these supposedly trivial components? This exhibition offers hints into the aspects that transcend the paintings as representations, exploring the complexity of the layers of meaning that landscape scenes can contain. While works by contemporary artists add additional themes, expanding the scope of the display. 

In her work, the artist Mio Okido (born 1986) explores divergent interpretations of identical scenes or supposedly uniform phenomena. Appropriating the imagery of postcards sent home by her grandfather while stationed in Japanese-occupied China in the early 1940s, she teases out the discrepancies between national and individual narratives, while also highlighting the ways that interpretations evolve throughout history. 

With his video works, Zhou Tao (born 1976) creates images that document the contemporary tensions between human beings and nature, while also evoking the aesthetics of classical landscape painting. The artist uses his camera as a tool for lending expression to the invisible and the unspeakable. His video works give visual form to his perceptions and emotions, while also leaving room for interpretation.

Other works in the collection illustrate shifts in visual motifs, highlight processes of cultural and historical transfer and stress the socially constructed nature of the compositions. To gain a more comprehensive understanding and interpretation of East Asian landscape painting, though, viewers require knowledge of the accompanying inscriptions and the allusions being made in the pictures, something this exhibition provides. 

A temporary presentation by the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin as part of the permanent exhibition Ethnological Collections and Asian Art at the Humboldt Forum.

Buddha (Pakistan, 2--3. century) in the module "Buddhist Art in South Asia. Stupas, Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas" of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in the Humboldt Forum
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst / Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss / Alexander Schippel

Permanent exhibition

10178 Berlin

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U-Bahn: Friedrichstraße
S-Bahn: Friedrichstraße, Hackescher Markt
Tram: Am Kupfergraben, Hackescher Markt
Bus: Staatsoper, Lustgarten, Friedrichstraße

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Sun 10:30 - 18:30
Mon 10:00 - 18:30
Tue closed
Wed 10:30 - 18:30
Thu 10:30 - 18:30
Fri 10:30 - 18:30
Sat 10:30 - 18:30

Opening times on public holidays Opening Hours