I am really pleased that I managed to catch the Masterpieces of Chinese Painting show at the V&A. Although it was a wide-ranging survey, organised chronologically from 700-1900, it never felt overwhelming as the number of works had been kept to only 70. The emphasis of the exhibition was on the political context of the paintings and on the individuality of the painters and the labelling was well done.
Having seen the Mira Schendel show at Tate earlier in the month and her use of transparent rice paper, in particular, I got very excited at this show by the Bodhisattva in Monastic Dress Standing at Prayer (c.950), painted on both sides and using to the full the transparency of the silk on which it is painted in gold and red hues. I love it when these connections accross cultures and art forms present themselves to the eye, mind and heart.
A contemporary response by Xu Bing to a traditional Chinese fable can be seen in the John Madejski Garden: Travelling to the Wonderland, trailing cables and all – apparently intended to remind the viewer of the work’s unreality. For me the cables, machines and artificial flowers seemed more intended to contextualise the piece as art, rather than traditional Chinese garden craft.