Chambers Fine Art in New York is hosting a solo show of Fu Xiaotong. This exhibition will showcase traditioinal Chinese landscapes with a modern twist. Fu Xiaotong paints with needles on traditional rice paper that has been used for centuries. This labour-intensive practice creates stunning results. It takes up to several million pinpricks to create a large-scale artwork and the precision has to be high. The resulting network of textures depicts nature and rethinks several traditional Chinese artistic practices in order to give them a new life and meaning while taking the viewers to a Land of Serenity.
Xuan paper (or Shuen paper) is a kind of rice paper originating in ancient China. Its texture is soft and fine, so the paper was suitable for painting as well as Chinese calligraphy. A vast number of books and paintings from ancient China that have survived until today, managed to resist the ravages of time only because they were made with Xuan paper. This kind of paper is something esentially Chinese, and Fu Xiaotong uses it to create art that offers a contemporary twist on ancient Chinese artistic practices. Using the same kind of paper that’s been around since the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Fu paints with needles. The concept, precision and devotion should probably put her among the contemporary artists from China we should know more about.
Fu Xiaotong’s choses subjects that have a long history in Chinese visual culture. She mainly depicts mountains, rocks and water, but does that in a really unconventional manner. Fu creates images by piercing Xuan paper with needles. Her works are large in size, and images are made by stabbing needles into paper for hundreads of thousands of times. The artist has discovered a language of a needle. There are five different ways you can approach a piece of paper with a needle, and every approach results with marks of a different quality. By combining different ways one can stab Xuan paper, Fu Xiatong manages to create realistic renderings of different features of a landscape. The subjects, therefore, have to be broken down to complex grids of interlocking stabs.
When piercing through paper, you can approach it from the front or from the back, or at an angle from the front or from the back. To create a large-scale landscape using only this technique, Fu Xiaotong conducts detailed preliminary studies. That way, the artist is capable of representing textures such as the ones of rocks and water as faithful as possible. Seen from close up, the texture of her works resemble the texture of tapestries. The high precision of her technique is to be admired, as well as her patience, and New Yorkers now have perfect opportunity for that. Land of Serenity by Fu Xiaotong is on display from February 11, 2016 to March 26, 2016, at Chambers Fine Art in New York.
Featured image: Fu Xiaotong - 208,500 Pinpricks; Fu Xiaotong - Land of Serenity, details from the exhibition; Fu Xiaotong - 300,800 Pinpricks. All images courtesy of the Artist and Chambers Fine Art.