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XU BING (B. 1955)
FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION (LOTS 1028-1032)
XU BING (B. 1955)

Landscript - The Drawing from the Project of Helsinki-Himalaya Exchange

Details
XU BING (B. 1955)
Landscript - The Drawing from the Project of Helsinki-Himalaya Exchange
A pair of scrolls, mounted and framed, ink on paper
Each scroll measures 99.5 x 174 cm. (39 1/8 x 68 ½ in.)
(2)With one seal of the artist
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.

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Lot Essay

I sat atop the mountain, facing it, writing the Chinese character for mountain, […] placing the character for water where the river flowed. The clouds moved, the wind blew, the colours of the mountains shifted; I recorded the spirit of nature with utmost excitement.
- Xu Bing
With calligraphic brushstrokes and monochromatic ink wash evocative of a traditional landscape painting, Xu Bing’s Landscript - The Drawing from the Project of Helsinki-Himalaya Exchange is a virtuosic essay on the conceptual slippage of word and image. The relationship between the pictographic and the pictorial has long been a foremost preoccupation throughout the artist’s career; in 1999, at the invitation of Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Xu Bing travelled to Nepal and sketched the vast mountain scenery on the Himalayan hillsides. He began to fill his sketchbooks with landscapes populated with Chinese characters, arranging and angling each individual character to depict the corresponding elements of nature, resulting in an image of the natural world filtered through human systems of linguistic and pictorial representation.
Composed of meticulously written Chinese characters flowing over the landscape, Landscript - The Drawing from the Project of Helsinki-Himalaya Exchange affords the great visual-linguistic pleasure of discovery for those who read Chinese. There are mountains built by the character for rock, and trunks of trees adapted from the radical wood, anchored by the boulders and rocks that run along the lower register. A lexical forest grows from the rocky outcrops. If by doing so Xu Bing alludes to the pictographic nature of Chinese characters, that the characters are graphical depiction of the objects they denote, he also points to the intimate relationship between painting and calligraphy: ‘in China, painting and writing a mountain is the same thing.’
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