Back in October, with the opening of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Forbidden City attraction, the Vancouver Art Gallery launched their Institute of Asian Art and its premier exhibit entitled Unscrolled.
The Institute, per a September report published by the Gallery, has been created to reflect the strong connections between British Columbia and China in a more significant and visible manner than in the Gallery’s past. It will focus on visual arts of Asia, especially China, and will celebrate the talents of Asian artists living in China and throughout the world.
Unscrolled was deliberately paired with the Forbidden City in order to offer a contrast of Chinese past and Chinese present. The Forbidden City exhibit has since ended, but Unscrolled rolls on until Monday, April 6, 2015.
Out of everything on display, a diaspora story like a Chinese born outside of China, may find particular connection with Xu Bing‘s reproduction of Zhao Fu’s Ten Thousand Li of Mountains and Rivers.
Reach the top of the double staircase to the Gallery’s second floor and you will be met with Unscrolled’s opening piece by Bing which upon first glance appears a regular, still gorgeous painting from centuries ago, just that this one is backlit.
Walk around and from behind what looked to be a work typically Chinese in nature is not exactly that. This is composed largely of things that have never touched Chinese soil and whose ties to China are unclear.
In fact, Xu walked around Vancouver and collected random items he came across to use in construction. The result is a fascinating and thought provoking piece that is a blend of here, now, then, and there that curator Diana Freundl explains in the promo video below has people look beyond the superficial application of tradition in contemporary art and explore deeper connections between artists and their historical cultures.
For insight into the exhibit works, a must read has been published providing context for everything. Visit Amazon on the left to purchase.
Credit – Vancouver Art Gallery
Along with Xu Bing, Unscrolled features activist/artist Ai Weiwei, 886 antique chairs from the Qing dynasty and his commentary on the tragic loss of craftsmanship in the face of automation and cookie cutter mass production. Also moving is Liu Jianhua‘s drippy and porcelain Traces that’s sure to get you thinking perspectives.
aiweiwei, asianart, asiandiasporastories, china, chinese, vancouver, vancouverartgallery, xubing