On the afternoon of October 23, 2015, the opening ceremony of “Diamond Leaves: the Second Exhibition of Artists’ Books from around the World” was held at CAFA Art Museum. The exhibition is jointly organized by CAFA, Chelsea College of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London, and Artron Culture Group, it is jointly curated by Prof. Xu Bing, Director of the Academic Committee of CAFA and Prof. Chris Wainwright from the Chelsea College of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London. On the afternoon of October 18, the curator Xu Bing together with the Swedish bookbinders hosted the media in visiting the exhibition at the gallery and launched a lecture entitled “The Aesthetic and Techniques of Western Bookbinding”, to create a stir prior to the opening of the exhibition.
The opening ceremony of the exhibition was presided over by Wang Huangsheng, Director of CAFA Art Museum, and the honored guests who were present at the opening included Xu Ying, Deputy Director of the International Liaison Office of the Propaganda Department of CCCPC, Zhao Haiyun, Deputy Director of Import Management Department at the General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television, Party Secretary of CAFA Gao Hong, Vice President of CAFA Su Xinping, Chairman and President of Artron Cultural Enterprise Wan Jie, General Manager of China Universal Press & Publication Co., Ltd. Liu Yi, and Director of the Academic Committee of CAFA Prof. Xu Bing, as well as artists and insiders of the press and art circles.
At the opening ceremony, the curator Xu Bing said that the intention of holding of “Diamond Leaves” was to introduce the concept of “artists’ books” to China, because Chinese artists had a special cultural inheritance, such as the invention of papermaking, the print culture and a unique method of viewing art, he hoped to see the great creation of the “handmade book” by Chinese artists, while “Diamond Leaves” 2015 proved perfectly that the purpose was realized. Book reading has greatly changed over the three years, this exhibition also offered the handmade book a development space and made it a special form of creation. Each artist’s handmade book reflects the intelligence, creativity and the attitude of manual work, while the works by Chinese and foreign artists participating in the exhibition showcased the cultural differences and the differences in the attitude of making, so they had an opportunity to reflect on it.
Vice President Su Xinping addressed the opening ceremony and gave his congratulations to the successful presentation of the exhibition. He said books were the record for human civilization, the exhibition entitled “Diamond Leaves” reflected the taste and cultural quality of the curator Xu Bing, and it helped Chinese viewers and artists experience a knowledge and understanding of “handmade books”. In Su Xinping’s opinion, the exhibition was an opportunity to learn and an inspiration for his creation, at the same time it plays a positive role in Chinese art and education.
President of Artron Cultural Enterprise Wan Jie said that, Ancient Chinese civilization had made great contributions to the world, now it also made new breakthroughs and new contributions. The “Diamond Leaves” combined technologies including book, paper and printing, to create a new art form, it also presented a more sophisticated, diverse and abundant “handmade books” than the previous one. At the same time, Wan Jie said the “Artists’ Handmade Creation Base” by Artron would be finished soon, Xu Bing had advocated and established the “Global Artist Books Alliance” and an appraisal was about to be started, they would try their best to lay a solid foundation and creative conditions for the creation of the “handmade book”, to promote its development in China.
“Artist Books” is a term that appeared in the late 20th Century. It turned the “leafing” into a form of art, freely transforming the reading of the text, visual appreciation and tactile element of the material into an entirety, so that book producing becomes the art located in the “intermediate zone”.
In regards the origin of this form of art, the majority of researchers think that the famous British artist and poet William Blake (1757-1827) was the first inventor. “Artist Books” is a form of artistic media and has a long history and profound cultural context around the world, at the same time it has great potential as a creative form of contemporary art, especially for China with its bookmaking culture and history so that there may be more creative possibilities. Adhering to the idea, the first “Diamond Leaves” was held successfully at CAFA Art Museum in September 2012, which triggered a strong reaction from all walks of life, especially inspiring the development in the field of contemporary design.
The exhibition is divided into one central exhibition and three satellite exhibitions. The central exhibition features nearly 100 artist books from around the world, in addition to pieces by the father of Surrealism Salvador Dali, conceptual artist Bruce Nauman and noted Swiss bookmaker Roth Dieter, as well as key works in the history of bookmaking. In addition, 40% of the books are works by Chinese artists from the last three years, which has greatly promoted the development of the creation of artist books in China.
Three satellite exhibitions have distinct themes, including “Books that Can Move”, “Handmade Book Designs for Nobel Prize-Wining Literature” and “Journey”, offering the spectators a strong visual effect in the way to present a book. Of the satellite exhibitions, the first exhibition entitled “Handmade Book Designs for Nobel Prize-Wining Literature” features the exquisite designs of Swiss book artists which show a reverence for the products of human civilization; the second exhibition entitled “Books that Can Move” is a small show of pop-up books. In these books, spectators can see the history of pop-up books and experience the creativity and intelligence that lies between their pages and the third exhibition is entitled “Journey” which was specially curated by Chris Wainwright. It introduces books made by artists about travel. These books are not artist books in the full sense of the word, but reflect the links between artists and books in another way.
The project of “Diamond Leaves” will continue in the form of a triennial in the future. The exhibition will continue to November 25.
Text by Ye Yuanfeng, Photo by Yang Yanyuan/CAFA ART INFO
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO