Wang Ai: Flying Over Ancient Landscapes, exhibition at Shain Library

Wang Ai, Vimalakirti Sutra: Portrait of an Eagle 2
Wang Ai, Vimalakirti Sutra: Portrait of an Eagle 2

Contemporary Chinese artist Wang Ai will present his new mixed-media works that juxtapose contemporary elements with abstract animal images, canonical Buddhist and Confucian texts, and traditional Chinese landscapes. "Wang Ai: Flying Over Ancient Landscapes" is on display in the Charles Chu Room of Shain Library through Nov. 7, and is free and open to the public. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wang Ai’s art offers a dialogue with the Chinese art tradition in its broad sense. An artist, poet and author born in 1971 in Huangyan, Zhejiang, China, into a family of artists, Wang Ai studied traditional Chinese art during his childhood under the influence of his father and brother by imitating the illustrations in the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. Simultaneously possessing a highly experimental and self-reflective sensibility and also an intuitive and indigenous upbringing, he considers himself a contemporary artist exploring boundaries of tradition and modernity, not merely a painter of any school. Among all the works that he has created to date, the series of Flying Over Ancient Landscapes is the one that best crystalizes the fascinating and captivating contradictions embedded in Wang’s identity as a contemporary artist.

In 2008, inspired by the Northern Song landscape painter Fan Kuan's masterpiece "Travelers among Mountains and Streams," Wang decided to experiment on paper, re-engaging the great Chinese landscape painting tradition and searching for a new style and direction. Often calling his style “polyphonic,” he weaves a labyrinthine universe of ancient landscapes, animals, and scriptural texts, which are juxtaposed with contemporary elements and presented in mixed media on paper. The current exhibition features some of his most recent works from this series and for the first time exhibited here.

Wang currently lives and works in Beijing. He has exhibited extensively in China and Europe.

Wang visited the College for an informal artist talk and dialogue at the exhibition opening on Sept. 21.

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September 25, 2017