The exhibition After Landscape, jointly organized by CGK, Yunnan Arts University, and the Yunnan Oil Painting Society, and curated by Luo Fei, features works by more than 60 artists in painting, photography, sculpture, installation and multimedia, exploring ways of seeing and constructing visions of the natural world around us.
In art history, the concept of the landscape comes from 15th-century Europe. The term describes the “state” or “condition” (scap) of the “land.” The landscape of the time was not a primal, natural scene, but instead referred to the lands surrounding the cities. The landscape was viewed as a part of the territory of the city, an object in the service of the city or the portrait. With the invention of perspective techniques in the Renaissance, the landscape evolved from a symbolic backdrop into a main body of painting, coalescing into an aesthetic alteration of chaotic nature under a fixed perspective and frame. The landscape also became a single glance of the natural environment, making it quite unlike the multiple perspective cosmic view in Chinese shanshui imagery.
Through the frame, the rough, dangerous, chaotic nature was aesthetically transformed into the landscape. The landscape implies humanity’s alteration of nature, as well as humanity’s interpretation of nature. Whether as object or subject, the landscape is always the land as medium, land that has undergone aesthetic processing. This implies that “landscape is not a genre of art but a medium,” a “natural scene mediated by culture” (W.J.T. Mitchell). Through the landscape, we see our relationships with the world, with others, and even with ourselves.
Since the 20th century, artistic creation relating to the landscape has had a continuous history in Yunnan, from the beginnings of modern art education to the French-trained masters, then on to the artists who focused on the landscape of the frontier, the countryside, and the city, and finally to today’s landscape creations rooted in geography, ecology, image, body, and culture. Throughout, landscape creation has stood as a reflection of diverse cultures and spiritual pursuits.
The exhibition “After Landscape” focuses on artistic creations relating to the landscape that have occurred in recent years in Yunnan, from painting to multimedia. Through them, we can see the traditions of landscape art and the traces of their evolution, the heritage of modernism and local experimental exploration. This exhibition carries out its discussion of the landscape and related works in five segments: “Landscape and its Expression”, “The Wild Highlands”, “Place and Non-Place”, “Manufactured Landscapes,” and “Bodily Intervention in the Landscape.”
From the historical threads of landscape art to the exploration and experimentation of local artists, we can see that the conception and expression of the landscape is not fixed, but that it is constructed by observers in different eras according to their cultural experiences and aesthetic leanings. People set out from their respective starting points to build landscapes of their own. The intent of “After Landscape” is to catch a glimpse of the cultural and aesthetic roots behind the landscape. When everyone’s landscape is constructed, where do we go from there?
Participating Artists (in alphabetical order):
Bai Mengfan, Bai Shi, Bai Xuejuan, Bian Xiaoqiang, Cao Yue, Chen Chuan, Chen Lingjie, Cheng Xinhao, Deng Anke, Fei Min, Fu Meijun, Gao Jie, Gao Xiang, Guo Peng, He Libin,He Yunchang, Hu Jun, Hu Shu, Hu Xiaogang, Huang Deji, Jiang Ruoyu, Jin Dawei, Jin Zhiqiang, Li Donghai, Li Ji, Li Rui, Li Youjie, Lin Zidan, Liu Hui, Liu Jing, Liu Kai, Liu Nan, Liu Yawei, Lü Min, Ma Yun, Mao Jie, Miao Yuanyang, Ouyang Heli, Su Jiashou, Su Jiaxi, Su Jie, Sun Guojuan, Sun Shifan, Tang Zhigang, Tao Fa, Tong Wenmin, Wang Jiyun, Wang Xuan, Wang Yuqing, Wu Jun, Ya Li, Yang Jianbo, Yang Zhengquan, Ye Funa, Yu Hua, Zai Pengfei, Zeng Xiaofeng, Zhang Hua, Zhang Wei, Zheng Hongchang, Zi Bai