Celebrated Chinese artist Xu Bing has transformed the V&A’s John Madejski Garden with a new installation inspired by the classic Chinese fable Tao Hua Yuan (The Peach Blossom Spring).
The V&A invited Xu Bing to create a major new work to coincide with the Museum’s exhibition, Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700–1900 which brings together the finest examples of Chinese painting to present an overview of one of the world’s greatest artistic traditions.
'…After a dozen steps, it opened into a flood of light. He saw before his eyes a wide, level valley, with houses and fields and farms. There were bamboos and mulberries; farmers were working and dogs and chickens were running about.' - translated by writer and linguist Lin Yutang (1895 - 1976).
This text is quoted from the Peach Blossom Spring, a classic Chinese fable written in 421AD. It describes the moment when a lost fisherman discovers a wonderland hidden behind a mountain where inhabitants live in harmony with nature.
Xu Bing’s works often challenge viewers to question their first impression - everything is not as it first seems. From certain angles visitors will see hidden machines and cables which remind them this wonderland is ultimately un-real, just like the Peach Blossom Spring is ultimately fictional.
All images Xu bing , garden intsllation, © Victoria and Albert Museum London