Grids and Stones: Landscape as Cultural Self-portrait
28 January - 28 February 2015
Hanart TZ Gallery
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Grids and Stones (Curatorial Statement)

Peter Nelson

Grids and Stones 言與物  presents landscapes as cultural self-portraits, where the physical environment becomes a coded depiction of the artists and of their time. The curation of this exhibition is inspired by the discursive binaries often used to describe ‘landscape’ in art history, such as  ‘shan shui’ (‘mountains waters’ 山水) or ‘figure-ground’. In this exhibition, artworks are subtly organised as ‘grids and stones’, or ‘yan’ and ‘wu’ (‘word’ and ‘thing’ 言與物’. The ‘grid’ functions as a symbol for creating space, as well as the rationalist desire to quantify it. This is a precarious mathematical ideal because it can both create a new world, but also overwrite all other potential worlds. ‘Yan’ (‘word’ 言) can describe, define and communicate our thoughts, but just like how a set of instructions will both teach and demystify a magic trick, ‘yan’ can overwrite the thought and colonise its meaning. The ‘stone’ is the counterpart in this exhibition, and is also referred to as ‘wu’ (‘thing’ 物).  The stone inhabits the space that we have created, as the object of fantasy. It is the organic object we stare at, and project desires of the natural world; it is the irrational guest of the rationalised host.

Over the past five years, Australian artist Peter Nelson and Tsong-Zung Chang have been discussing landscape painting in contemporary art, with a shared interest in the Chinese literati mode. If a cross-cultural discussion can be portrayed as two languages finding approximations for one another, Nelson hopes that the errors and inaccuracies in his approximations can bring about new, and unexpected understandings of landscape and the literati. Peter Nelson curated this exhibition inspired by his conversations with Tsong-Zung Chang. The works by Peter Nelson, Hsu Yu-Jen, Leung Kui Ting and MAP Office share a common reference to the Chinese literati, but each adapts this landscape painting tradition to suit their particular voice.

Grids and Stones 言與物  is an exhibition about landscape, conceived by conversations between passionate enthusiasts. By accommodating variations in cultural backgrounds and artistic concerns, it celebrates the space where differences overlap, where opinions can be shared, and where mistranslations can inspire new ideas.

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