Landscaping presents a broad selection of China’s changing scenery. The common denominator is the modern city; its machinery, its views from the car, its semi-abstracted neon-filled nightscapes: Myriad details, from figuration to abstraction, reinterpreting the urban scene.
Today, the landscape genre is no longer bound by tradition; and may include radical departures, producing new aesthetic contexts wholly of the artists’ choosing. One artist’s “landscape” may appear irrelevant – and even obsolete - to a younger generation, raised on a steady diet of computer gaming and internet sharing. Fading landscapes, shifting landscapes, distorted landscapes, and even vanishing landscapes, are all of equal validity. China’s cities, constantly in flux, will no doubt produce “landscapes” beyond our imagination. Fleeting urban images, under sweeping change, are surveyed with the innovative eyes of five artists.
Two Hong Kong “harborscapes” from Chen Shaoxiong ‘s “Collective Memory” series are included. Begun as a public participation art project, the artist invited young and old to leave fingerprint marks on canvas, tracing landscapes laid out by the artist. The results are literally “collective memories” imbedded with ink marks of many, recording landscapes and monuments well known and used by all.
Taiwanese artist Huang Zhiyang also innovates with ink in his “Three Marks” series, where each brush stroke is meticulously recorded as pulsating, energetic “marks” tracing the artist’s brush work prowess, as his brush sweeps its own energy and spirit across the paper. Huang describes his “Three Marks” semi-abstract ink paintings as patterns and traces of energy fields left by his brush work.
In 3 - dimensional mode, Ryan LaBar, a prize-winning American ceramics artist residing in China’s famed kiln site, Jingdezhen, uses machinery movements as the focus of his latest ceramics sculptures. He likens his sculpture to systems reflective of the modern era where, “Each component’s rigid and singular identity has changed, warped, and bent to accommodate the integration of the neighbouring elements.” Like urbanites living in close proximity, the move of any one component will undoubtable affect the whole.
Luo Qingmin, Cantonese artist residing in Beijing, experiments with architectural perspective, using ink brush and rice paper, to map the city landscape of Beijing, and the way it is viewed from the car’s vantage point. The result is one long flat horizon, rendered in ink and rice paper across multiple panels.
Xu Zhenbang’s aesthetic is the product of his native Shenzhen, its city streets and decidedly urban life-style. Construction signs, restaurant kitsch paintings, computer gaming, fashion labels and graphic design inform his painting practice. Xu’s “landscapes” are abstracted and prophetic visions of urban aesthetics. We will see what Xu sees, in the not too distant future.