Luo Ying: Layered Hills
12 July - 25 August 2018
Hanart TZ Gallery
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Artist’s Reception

Thursday, 12 July 2018, 6-8 pm

Exhibition Period


Hanart TZ Gallery is honoured to invite you to the opening reception of the exhibition Luo Ying: Layered Hills, the first solo exhibition in Hong Kong by the noted ink painter Luo Ying. The exhibition will feature over 50 important works by the artist representing her oeuvre of the last five years, including several key works previously held by Luo Ying in her private collection and never publicly displayed before.

The opening reception in the presence of the artist will take place on Thursday, 12 July 2018, from 6 to 8pm, at Hanart TZ Gallery, 4th floor, Pedder Building. The exhibition will continue through 25 August 2018.

‘Whether it is the configurations of Guo Xi’s lofty mountains, the texture of Emperor Huizong’s rocks, Xia Gui’s inky mists, or the nooks and corners of Ming and Qing gardens—as long as an element is pleasing to her, Luo Ying will bring it into her paintings; and yet this is not done in the contemporary sense of appropriation. Lofty mountains and Taihu stones are blended into one entity, and into the cold, glacial peaks the artist infuses emotional colour, adding elegant plants and greenery referencing ancient works. In this way she transposes the aesthetic sensibility of the Song, Ming and Qing into a modern tone. Luo Ying’s compositional approach blends the real with the fantastical: it derives from her own sense-perception of time. Time has no climate, it goes on indefinitely, and can be folded in on itself; it self-generates, occasionally producing an offshoot, and in other times it reflects back. Shanshui is a world of myriad cliffs and ravines, and time opens up within its folds and layers. It is from within these folds that we travel forth to other dimensions.’

Wei Xi

Painter and Author, his most recent book

is Night-shining White (Zhao yebai), published in 2017

Excerpt from

‘A Tale of Layered Mountains: Interpreting Luo Ying’s Shanshui Painting’

About Luo Ying

Born in Hangzhou in 1973, Luo Ying received her BFA (1996), MFA (2005) and PhD (2010) from the Chinese Painting Department of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. In 2015 Luo Ying was honoured by a solo exhibition of her paintings at the Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou, Poetry in Dimensions. She has also participated in notable group exhibitions, including Shanshui: A Manifesta, the opening exhibition of the Gongwang Art Museum in Hangzhou (2016), and Post-Brushwork Era: Chinese Landscapes at the Zhejiang Art Museum (2018).

Luo Ying is presently a professor of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy and director of the master’s programme in those disciplines at the China Academy of Art.

Artist’s Statement

These paintings seek to articulate the power that is contained within softness, and the nascent ability of the charming to reveal the path to truth. Deconstructing the multidimensional structure of the imagined landscape, reveals the spatial perception of traditional landscape painting; deconstructing the brushwork of mountains and rocks, infuses the image with a western visual vocabulary. These deconstructions allow a decoding of shanshui’s aesthetic idea of ‘roaming and residing’. Landscape offers a means of revealing the human character, while the human character in turns reveals the landscape. The traditional poetic expression of ‘flowers reflected in a mirror and the moon reflected in a lake’ refers to the mirror image of the self, and the charm of the landscape in the mirror serves to mold self-perception. Passing through the layered mountains we penetrate to the heart of modern consciousness. Contained within these reflective and silent images lies a view of the world that is at once transient and eternal.

Curatorial Statement

‘The Remembered Garden: On Luo Ying’s Created World’

CHANG Tsong-Zung

The poet Su Dongpo once wrote of his fear that he might never be able to return to the ‘remembered garden’ of home.[1]

Before poets eulogized gardens, or painters created their own garden narratives, the garden was really just part of the everyday fabric of people’s lives, an extension of the family dwelling. It was a place where one could lounge in the shade of the banana trees, enjoy a tea break in the bamboo grove while children cavort in the pond, and shout and giggle in a game of hide-and-seek amidst the rockery. One might even hang the washing out to dry in the courtyard, or engage in a loud cursing match with unpleasant neighbours next door. But no matter how much random activity there might be, or how raucous things might get, the garden was always a most desirable place, a locus of beauty and enjoyment—a retreat to which one would always long to return.

When we speak of the garden, it is always the guyuan, or the ‘remembered garden’ of the mind. Why define it this way? Because anyone who has ever experienced a garden, and who has travelled far afield and lingered in distant places, will always seek in their mind’s eye for the garden in their memory: they will always yearn to return to it, even though they will never be able to reach that destination. This is because the remembered garden is no longer the ‘garden of home’, but a garden that now exists within their imagination alone. As they step into this garden, worldly clattering suddenly ceases, and they take note of wonders such as the radiant shimmer of a dewdrop rolling off the petal of a lotus or, they hear the life-affirming splash of a leaping fish. This is the real garden. The ability to cross the distance to this garden, to uncover where it lies in the deepest regions of the heart, requires meditation and insight, and those unequal to the task will never discover the way there. Su Dongpo’s remembered garden was a place he saw in a dream, and it was shown to him alone. This garden is the true realm of the poet, and it can only be entered through a gate that opens onto a path between reality and illusion. What the mind sees is an illusion, and what the heart remembers is real. Thus it is the remembered garden, the guyuan, that is the true garden.

The remembered garden is a garden of the imagination. When the Qing memoirist Shen Sanbai (18th century) looked out of the window of his humble dwelling towards the pond of the famed Surging Waves Pavilion in Suzhou, he saw it through a single lotus flower arrangement placed in a small bowl on the windowsill. As he describes it in his Six Records of a Floating Life, that flower arrangement merged with the dancing, sparkling light of water shining right in front of his window: in his own humble manner Shen Sanbai brought alive the delights of the garden. This experience would have been ephemeral had it not been captured in writing, without which it would never have become part of our collective imagination. We can also be sure that, if in his later years Shen Sanbai had not journeyed far abroad, the dwelling where he stayed opposite to the Surging Waves Pavilion would never have become his guyuan.

The ‘remembered garden’ is where the artist always seeks to return; it is the form that embodies the deepest longing of the artist’s heart-mind. The crucial point is that this ‘form of longing’ cannot be seen by most people, and by extension, not many people have a garden of memory that they can return to. Luo Ying’s ‘remembered garden’ is both familiar and strange. Her compositions are replete with visual references to paintings of past masters, and yet easily cross over into fantastical worlds. These imageries from Tang and Song paintings have taken a thousand years for this essential transformation to emerge in Luo Ying’s art, to reach this realm where the dust of the world’s daily grind is shaken off, and its noise banished. In this world, mountains quiver as sparrows flit across the sky; and grottoes shimmer with mysterious auras where solitary cranes seek shelter. Although these are not fairylands, they are yet other-worldly. Walking along Luo Ying’s vision of Parisian streets, one seems to drop into a hidden fold in the road, a strange haven in midst of the street’s hustle and bustle, where one might startle a rare bird with the sound of one’s footsteps.

In his assessment of early masters, Tang dynasty art historian Zhang Yanyuan (9th century) praised the best painters for their ability to balance decoration and form, which distinguishes them from later painters whose inventiveness lacked ‘principle’. In the context of the discussion above, we might try our own interpretation, and explain the loss of the guiding ‘principle’ of fine art as the result of having lost the memory of a ‘remembered garden’.

Written in Hong Kong in early summer in the 69th year of the People’s Republic

(Translation by Valerie C. Doran)

[1] Su Dongpo (1037-1101), also known as Su Shi, was a celebrated Song-dynasty literatus and statesman. The reference is to his poem ‘Yongyu le’, and the line reads wangduan guyuan xinyan (lit., ‘I can no longer see the garden of home in my mind’s eye’)—Trans.

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