Multiple Encounters puts the video work of Yang Fudong in direct dialogue with historical Chinese paintings, a juxtaposition that raises questions about how we view both Yang’s work and classical art. Connecting the fifteenth century to the twenty-first, this exhibition suggests that some of the magical qualities of Yang’s work may be inherited from the Chinese classical tradition.
Ten classical paintings, in traditional formats, are displayed together with Yang’s seven-minute single-channel video The Half Hitching Post (2005). The video tells the story of two young men moving to an isolated village at the same time a young couple struggles to escape it. The journey takes place on the Loess Plateau in northern China, where the grandeur and timelessness of the landscape recall images from classical paintings. (Yang first studied painting at the China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou before switching to photography and film.)
Yang’s cinematic aesthetics, presenting a multiplicity of views by constructing numerous narratives, intriguingly echo the multipoint perspectives of classical painting. For example, Wen Zhengming’s sixteenth-century Landscape with Figures depicts mountains with several paths that provide ways for the figures in the painting to meet at some future point.
This fresh encounter between antique works and contemporary moving images challenges us to consider how artists working today are influenced by the past. Multiple Encounters is organized by Chen Fongfong, J.S. Lee Memorial Fellow, in collaboration with artist Yang Fudong. The exhibition will remain on view till February 16, 2014.
Courtesy of the artist and Berkeley Art Museum, for further information please visit bampfa.berkeley.edu.