In mid-May 2017, the “Belt and Road” Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing, in the spiritual context of sharing and communication, from May 13 to May 30, “The Silk Road and Celestial Clothes” was presented at the Art Gallery of the Imperial Ancestral Temple. Fan Di’an, President of CAFA is the chief curator of the exhibition, Prof. Lv Yue and Zhang Yanzi respectively planned different sections of the exhibition under the cultural framework of “Silk Road”, starting from the cultural factors of “silk” and “robe”, to then focus on the research on distribution, development and evolution of the technology of silk in the regions of the Silk Road, and the new form of silk robe in the contemporary context of art, in addition to the artistic creation and the material form of the robe that collides and bursts out with wonderful sparkles.
Preface for the Section of “Joint Presentation by Artists from China and the West”
By ZHANG Yanzi
There are many artistic creations closely related to silk in successive dynasties, from “Gossamer-line Drawing” in figure paintings in the earlier period, to Yuefu Folk Song “Mo Shang Sang” in the Han Dynasty, the strings on Qin and Zither (musical instruments) and Shi Cong’s fifty-mile long “Silk Barrier”…these ancient artworks have been worshiped as classics and written into history. Still today, these artists are making innovations in the transmission of heritage, thus the significance of the “Joint Presentation by Artists from China and the West” section within the exhibition of “The Silk Road and Celestial Clothes” lies in here.
This section “Joint Presentation by Artists from China and the West” has invited more than 30 influential artists from China and the West to work on a traditional Chinese silk robe as their “canvas” or “element”, by using their individualistic language and concepts. These artists from China, Italy, India and other countries along the Silk Road, have taken the robes as their carrier, by means of painting, installation, photography, to create trans-boundary artworks with intensified individual concepts and appearances in various forms. These works are rich in tension and extraordinary imagination and showcase the vitality of the readymade as a language of the media, as well as the possibilities of traditional cultural themes in a contemporary context.
As written in “The Book of Songs, Cao Feng: Ephemera”: ‘Feathers of ephemera, are dressed delicately.’ Clothes, in addition to its main function of hiding nakedness, refuge from the cold, modification and decoration, also have a complicated and subtle meaning in the social class and relationship, and it even becomes a symbol of identity and temperament. The Chinese-style robe provided for these artists, were not fixed to some dynasty as its model, but with reference and design, it refines a silk robe full of images symbolized with heritage and the integration of cultures.
Long sleeves are an advantage in dances, artists from the East and the West, combine their Eastern Zen or Western ideas, dialogues with the ancient Silk Road at a distance. Civilizations from the East and the West have reacted and stimulated with each other which further triggers thinking and imagination from more extensive dimensions.
Courtesy of CAFA ART INFO, translated and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO.