picture: The History of Landscape by Huang Yan
The word, Shanshui in Chinese by associating mountain and water signifies landscape. The beautiful book Shanshui: Poetry Without Sound edited by Peter Fischer & the Kunstmuseum Luzern (Switzerland) in collaboration with Ai Wei Wei and published by Hatje Cantz gathers an important amount of Chinese contemporary artists that deals with the notion of landscape at the same time than questioning the subject of the Chinese traditional painting.
In fact many of those artists reinterpret the means of landscape representation like Huang Yan who is using the forms of the human body as a medium for his amazing paintings. On the contrary, some others like the excellent Yang Yongliang (whose work was already published on the Funambulist) who reuses the mist and the mountains of traditional paintings but include in his, the frenetic aggregation of skyscrapers that composes Chinese contemporaneous cities’ skylines.
I am definitely not a specialist in Chinese Contemporary Art but this book appears to me as very interesting for its choice of topic, when an important amount of the Western critics is currently writing (speculating) about several Chinese artists that distinguish themselves by pretending to critic the current politico-economical system in China, when they actually reinforce it. Somehow those artists are more subversive by reinterpreting a tradition of art that has been fought against by the Cultural Revolution; but rather than copying ancient art in a form of nostalgic neo-classicism, they violently subvert its rules. A literal and obvious manifesto of this spirit can be observed when Ai Wei Wei photographs himself breaking a 2000 years old vase. Sometimes politics is expressed not as a subject but rather as a medium…
The Wave by Ai Wei Wei
View of Tide by Yang Yongliang
Landscape-Ink Ice/1A by Dai Guangyu
Roving P-1 / Roving P-2 by Wu Gaozhong