Chinese calligraphy and religion in the far reaches of China are investigated in this week’s feature exhibitions. Components of Chinese calligraphy are explored in Guanshan Gathering through the collaborative efforts of the influential scholar, curator, and artist Zheng Shengtian and the highly regarded calligrapher Wang Donglin. Religious shrines of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the Taklamakan Desert are photographed by Lisa Ross in the exhibition Behind the Dunes.
Guanshan Gathering: Works by Zheng Shengtian and Wang Dongling will be on view from January 9 to February 22 at Chambers Fine Art, 522 W. 19th Street, New York, NY.
The basic elements of calligraphy, ink, and material are brought to the fore in a continuation of Zheng Shengtian’s project from the exhibition Word and Meaning: Six Contemporary Chinese Artists at SUNY Buffalo and Ohio University in 2000 and 2001. In videotaping his wife writing Clement Greenberg’s well-known essay Modernist Painting on a treated canvas, where the letters gradually shrivel, Zheng demonstrates “the historical progress of Modernist Reductionism that Greenberg believed to be inevitable.” Using similar tactics, the upcoming project Guanshan Gathering at Chambers Fine Art will feature the specially trained Wang Dongling (Chinese, b.1945) writing Zong Bing’s fifth-century classic Introduction to Landscape Painting. At the opening on January 9, Wang will publicly create a piece at the gallery, as well as giving a public calligraphy demonstration at the Met on January 11, in association with the exhibition Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China.
Over the past 10 years, Lisa Ross (American, b.1964) has worked to capture mazar, Sufi shrines and Muslim pilgrimage sites. These devotional sites are marked with various offerings, from cloth tied to branches to remains of sacrificial animals. Ross’s hushed images evoke the prayerful and meditative nature of the sites. Against the timelessness of the desert background, the movement of the wind-lifted textiles and their bright-to-faded hues lend to the vitality of these enduring sites. Ross worked in collaboration with Uyghur folklorist Rahile Dawut and French historian Alexandre Papas. Behind the Dunes marks the first official exhibition in the Kashya Hildebrand Project Space in London. Ross will be present at the opening to sign copies of her new book, featuring the project Living Shrines of Uygur China.
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