Title Rest on Water and Gargle with Stone- Chinese Contemporary Literati Art
Duration Jun. 20-Aug. 16, 2015
Reception Jun. 20 (Sat.) 4pm
Asia Art Center Beijing
Invited Scholars Zhu Liangzhi, Xu Tianjin
Artists Liu Dan, Zeng Xiaojun, Xu Bing, Ye Yongqing, Shen Qin, Li Chen, Shao Fan, Shen Kelong, Cai Xiaosong, Jiang Ji’an, Shi Jinsong

Rest on Water and Gargle with Stone- Chinese Contemporary Literati Art

Jade emerges from the stones and shines forth across the mountains

Traditional literati arts reveal the art of expressing the cultural consciousness of the literati class. The literati and intelligentsia combine characteristics of the literati and the anti-“intelligentsia”. The literati arts exude a certain sense of what can be termed the humanistic approach – a kind of search for the arts that pursue the value of lives and existence. Moreover these literati arts emphasize piercing through the cultural “red tape”, and overcoming existing artistic limitations. These twin features serve to determine how the literati arts must be personal, non-subordinated, possessing humanistic concerns, and yet overcoming the normal order.

In this Chinese Contemporary Literati Arts exhibition organized by Asia Art Center, eleven leading contemporary artists’ latest works are presented. Their creation represents a certain sense of connection with the traditional literati arts, while also establishing a new and directly individual sentiment on life. Their media are all modern, creating a complex weave of interspersed imaginative semiotics combining the subtlety of traditions, though still modern, their spirit reflects the historic pulse of the traditional literati, in an attempt to express the ineffable, irrepressible and unchanging values of life. They exude recognizable images constituting the spiritual construction of a soulful vision expressing the contemporary sense of solicitude, or even an intellectual embrace of the mysterious. This exhibition relies on contemporary glosses to convey the eternal spirit of the literati arts. Referring then to the entirety as “Contemporary Literati Arts”, is assuredly apropos.

While stones remain a strong symbol of the eternal, humans are still mortal, so man and stone form a synergistic “ancient combination”, which captures our appreciation of natural life and the vagaries of the quest for our survival, while emphasizing the positive forces enabling and ennobling our overcoming of those restrictions. In this exhibition then it is quite natural that many stones are prominently featured in the semiotic kaleidoscopic array of works. Liu Dan presents large stones which reveal the mysteries of the universe unlocked, Li Chen’s works create a rhythmic sense of emptiness from substances, while Cai Xiaosong seeks to return to the peacefulness of solicitude. Stones, emerge as the semiotic by which the artists successfully convey their messages expressing exquisitely the experience of life in all its authentic detail. Lao Tzu said, “They do not wish to show themselves elegant-looking as jade, but prefer to be coarse-looking as an ordinary stone.” A world that is reluctant to succumb to civilization or vulgar rationale sees the stone as a quintessential symbol reflecting the truth of our characters.

Our ancients remarked “stones are the roots of the clouds”. The literati arts place the greatest emphasis on the brilliant but unaffected, with semiotic use of the natural environment and the ethereal truth. Their works are impressive and express a pinnacle of beauty. As if a Zen master meditating and living independently, they reflect a naturally uncomplicated order as if mist feeding bamboo shoots. This exhibition also includes many works along these lines. Shen Qin’s vision includes environs in light colors creating a singular sense of the disparate clouds floating peacefully, while Shen Kelong’s works express the spiritual universe in the quiet sense of the literati. Jiang Ji’an uses detailed weaving to express a physical sense of imaginative space, and Shao Fan relies on the marriage of steel and wood to create a mystical “New Ming Dynasty Furniture” expression. Shi Jinsong’s works rely on wood and stone media with gold and jade, to express the profound “bonsai spirit”. Each artist has a variety of imagery and quite unique techniques, as they individually express a vivid imaginative sense.

“Jade emerges from the stones, pearls are released from the water creating pleasing delights of the sea”. Although stone is reluctant to be carved and polished into fine jade of prevalent custom, it has its own imagination about the ideal shape of a jade. The literati arts may not result from a massive entity, and their styles may not be always “trendy”, instead their appreciation depends on the imaginative “sense”, and one’s reminiscence, to birth a strongly sensual imagination, allowing the viewer to appreciate new visions and conscious experiences. In this exhibition of eleven artists’ works, there are many profound expressions of creative inspiration. For example, Zeng Xiaojun’s works emphasize the exquisite rationale of their texture, Xu Bing incorporates naturalistic elements into the thoughts in traditional calligraphic scrolls, while Ye Yongqing takes the “natural order” of the universe as a dream expressed to his anarchical life. As Qing Teng remarked: “it takes a lifetime to express a millennia of artistic work”, as artists work for a century trying to capture those ineffable lasting expressions of their desires and dreams for the millennia.

This exhibition is not merely about pleasing the eyes and ears, but also about the deep spirit, and calming the soul.

Zhu Liangzhi


Liu Dan Old Man Rock

Liu Dan Pleated Cloud

Liu Dan Six Views of a Rock

Xu Bing Landscape Volume of Mustard Seed Garden

Xu Bing Seven Character Couplet in New English Calligraphy

Zeng Xiaojun Miniascape of Xiaogu Mountain Collection-No.1

Zeng Xiaojun Miniascape of Xiaogu Mountain Collection-No.3

Zeng Xiaojun Miniascape of Xiaogu Mountain Collection No.2

Zeng Xiaojun Old Vine of Rome Juliet Villa 2015

Zeng Xiaojun Natural View 2015

Ye Yongqing Landscape in Ocher 

Ye Yongqing Landscape in Ocher 

Shen Qin Village – a Pool of Lotus Leaves

Shen Qin Paddy Fields No.2

Shen Qin Imitating the Landscape Painting of Song Dynasty

Li Chen Ink ~ Floating Life

Li Chen Flickering Moonlight

Li Chen Floating Heavenly Palace

Shao Fan Dord Winding Garden Swaying Lotus (No Function) No.3

Shao Fan Ming Bamboo-2007 No.2

Jiang Ji’an Usage of Daily Life – No.1

Jiang Ji’an Desolate Woodland have been Withered away – No.2

Jiang Ji’an Making Tea in the Humble Room – No.2

Jiang Ji’an Making Tea in the Humble Room – No.1

Jiang Ji’an Philosophy of Daily Life

Cai Xiaosong Imperative Realm

Cai Xiaosong Jeru-1

Cai Xiaosong Jeru-2

Shen Kelong Leaning on the Wind

Shen Kelong Near the River

Shen Kelong Dispel the Clouds

Shen Kelong Rhapsody.Tingxi

Shen Kelong Antique.Mutual Obliviousness

Shi Jinsong Double Pines、Huashan Plan – Armchair、1200 Degrees-No.1501、1200 Degrees-No.15

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