A Fresh Look at Chinese Landscapes

30.03.2010 to 22.08.2010

Even by the 19th century, the art of Chinese landscape painting was able to look back on a tradition that was already over a thousand years old. At the turn of the 20th century, several factors contributed to a crisis in Chinese painting, including: the intransigent nature of certain conventions, radical changes in society and the increasing influence of the West.

Reactions to this crisis took many forms: for some it resulted in a return and more intense study of the past, while for others it meant a complete rejection of the traditional genre. Between these two poles there were many diverse attempts to revitalize classical landscape painting in terms of form, technique, style and content, in which influences from Western art often played an important role. Despite a range of binding rules laid down by Maoist cultural policy that were also levelled at painting, individualization in 20th century Chinese art still managed to reach levels previously unthinkable. And in spite of the general sense of pessimism, this particular classical Chinese tradition has proven itself to be an enduring platform for new creativity.

This temporary exhibition proudly presents works, mostly created since the 1960s, by several artists with widely differing styles. The obligatory literary landscape, as dictated by the genre's classical model, is a standard feature in the works, as is the use of abstract structures in rendering the unfolding landscape. Contemporary approaches also form part of the exhibition: as in Xu Bing's (born 1955) 'Landscripts', which is entirely composed of characters, as well as the loan of a 'digital Chinese ink painting' installed as a horizontal scroll, depicting an urban landscape by Miao Xiaochun (born 1964).