Mountain House of Sliced Stones: Artworks of Shen Qin & Chen Qi
Both artists, Shen Qin and Chen Qi, were born in Nanjing, the ancient capital of the six dynasties. The literati atmosphere and vicissitudes of land in Jinling shape the literary temperament of artists Shen Qin and Chen Qi who are good at expressing historical and humanistic thoughts. The two have been friends for more than 40 years and have encouraged each other on the road of art. Shen Qin is good at ink and wash, and Chen Qi is especially good at waterprint woodcut. In this way, two of them are immersed in their respective art fields to study and explore, and form their own systems relying on different media. Shen Qin’s paintings are empty and clear, quiet and inactive. The abstract painting contains a kind of internality of Jiangnan culture, and at the same time it creates an ethereal and poetic space. In contrast, the formal language produced by Chen Qi’s waterprint woodcut is quiet and full of passion, pure in style and rich in cultural connotations.
“Mountain House of Sliced Stones: Artworks of Shen Qin & Chen Qi” is the third exhibition held by Asia Art Center for two artists, following the “Artworks by Shen Qin & Chen Qi” (Beijing) in 2015, “Shen Qin & Chen Qi: Zero Degree” (Taipei) in 2016. More than twenty latest artworks by two artists will be exhibited this time, especially the biggest size ink paintings entitled Mountain House of Sliced Stones by artist Shen Qin and Chen Qi’s recent ink works will be displayed for the first time in this exhibition. The source of inspiration for this exhibition emerged since two artists visited the “Mountain House of Sliced Stones” in Yangzhou, May 2020, which is a classical garden building originally built in the Ming Dynasty. The stacked stones in the garden were passed down by the great painter, Shi Tao of the Qing Dynasty, which is regarded as “the only precious specimen on earth”. The stacked mountains with single peaks, green mountains and beautiful clear ponds together present an extraordinary temperament. Being touched there, two artists met together to create artistic creations on the theme of Mountain House of Sliced Stones and held an exhibition to pay tribute to Shi Tao.
For this exhibition, Asia Art Center specially invited DH JUNG, president of PLAT ASIA, to design the exhibition space. DH JUNG, as an outstanding Korean architect in China, has won many domestic and international architecture awards. He continues to practice contemporary oriental architecture and inherit the oriental view of nature, architecture, and culture. Based on the structure of Asia Art Center exhibition hall, the “dialogue” between two artists is presented in a tortuous and extended space structure, built in two rectangular spaces. Besides that, the black circular field creates an immersive overall atmosphere. The zigzag extension, light-dark viewing path, and the high and low spatial layout make audiences feel like walking in a garden, bringing a space for meditation and new aesthetic experience.
Shen Qin is the representative of the ink and wash innovation in the‘85 Art Movement”. Gardens and landscapes are significant motifs that run through Shen Qin’s ink works at different stages of creation. Sometimes from scenes of these pictures, audiences see a noble lotus and a clear pool of water in the landscape garden, which reveals Shen Qin’s unique spiritual temperament. This exhibition displays a number of green landscapes Mountain House of Sliced Stones and Green Garden, which are different from the traditional stylized expression methods of “green-blue blending”. Green mountains and rivers of the city are not obscured by the flashy form, but from the artist’s heart to express the innermost state regarding life. Mountain House of Sliced Stonesis the largest ink painting created by Shen Qin so far, in which the dark and light ink colors correspond to the simple lines of virtual and solid, forming a contrast, and creating a poetic ink atmosphere. At the same time, this work also benefited from his design experience, like black and white movie stills, rendering the changes of light and shadow. It seems rich in quiet and ethereal artistic conception, which is thought-provoking.
From Ming-style furniture and guqin, lotus dreams and butterflies, water and time notation, to the current animals, plants, and gardens, there are always surreal concepts in concrete objects in Chen Qi’s works. Although the subject matter is different, in the creative process through subtle variables and meticulous misprints, Chen tries to capture and interpret the traces of “time” and “life” in different dimensions. Whether it is waterprint woodcut, ink painting or digital art, Chen Qi’s creative skills are unique. This exhibition is the first time that a number of Chen Qi’s latest ink painting creations have been showcased, such as He Garden, Moon Mirror, A Dreamy Chant and so on. Among them, the huge ink painting named Mountain House of Sliced Stones is the largest piece of work. Looking around the masterpieces between curved walls of the exhibition hall, it seems to echo the original copy of the stacked stone by the painter Shi Tao of the Qing Dynasty in real time and space. In this regard, waterprint woodcut works such as Infinity, Exquisite Pagoda, Source and Mountain of Water Chestnut have created a more vivid garden interest. As a representative of Chinese waterprint woodcut artists, Chen Qi explores and promotes the development and reform of waterprint woodcuts in contemporary society. On the other hand, he devotes himself to the cause of art education, and is committed to art teaching methods and theory in colleges and universities.
Both Shen Qin and Chen Qi have made remarkable achievements in their respective art fields. Although their styles are quite different, they are invariably exploring the relationship between traditional culture and contemporary context. This is consistent with the concept of oriental aesthetics advocated by Asia Art Center, which is a contemporary transformation based on tradition and integrating the essence of Eastern and Western aesthetics. Shen Qin has always regarded “returning to the landscape paintings of the Song Dynasty” as the highest artistic ideal, and constructed a secluded world close to Song paintings through ink and wash. Chen Qi takes the contemporary transformation of waterprint woodcut as his mission, and creates new visual images with various art forms such as ink and digital art, so that it can regain its vitality in the present. In a word, their respective persistence and thoughts are presented in the Mountain House of Sliced Stones.