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Zhang Xiaofeng (b. 1976)
An Unbending Branch of Winter Plum
Woodblock print
143 x 75 cm

This pale image of Lu Xun is a remarkably skilful work. The revival of shuiyin techniques—printing with water-soluble colours, rather than oil-bound—began in the late 1950s, but has been widespread and increasingly innovative since the 1980s. The plum blossom carries important symbolism in China, representing hope and the coming of Spring, as it is the first flower to bloom. It also stands for resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity, so is fittingly paired with Lu Xun. 

Muban Educational Trust registration number zhafx001


Dong Jiansheng (b. 1936)
The World Inside the Mountain
Woodblock print
62 x 79 cm

Dong Jiansheng originally taught himself printmaking. Because of a casual remark, he got caught up in the Anti-Rightist Movement of 1957 and was sent to do hard agricultural labour for twenty-two years. During the Cultural Revolution, his only permitted art practice was creating propaganda posters. Rehabilitated when aged 45, Dong finally began formal study at CAFA. He works in black and white using a single block, cutting dramatic images of the architecture and mountain scenery of Taihang Mountain in Hebei. 

Muban Educational Trust registration number donjs004



Chen Haiyan (b. 1955)
Dream Magpie Girl
Woodblock print
40 x 40 cm

Chen Haiyan generally does not make a preparatory drawing before she cuts the block.  Cutting and printing right-reading images is particularly suitable for her complex designs, with their extensive use of Chinese characters. The images are shown partly as white against a black background and partly as black on white. Her “bleed-through” technique (tou yin) contributes to the spontaneous quality of her work, suggestive of traditional ink and brush painting. 


Muban Educational Trust registration number chehy001


Fang Limin (b. 1964)
Warm Autumn
Woodblock print
32 x 50 cm

Fang Limin carved these images on plywood.  He cut the blocks in both positive and negative form, with the smaller elements kept far enough apart for them to be inked in a different colour, yet printed at the same time. This is a contemporary technical interpretation of douban woodblock printing.  The colours and tree motifs clearly reference Autumn, but the image is an abstract one.  There is a distinct sense of personal meanings here.

Muban Educational Trust registration number fanlm001



Wang Chao (b. 1974)
The Desk in Jiuli Studio
Woodblock print
46 x 50 cm

Wang Chao has revitalized the techniques of 17th century woodblock printing, generally considered to be the zenith of the art in China.  He is an acknowledged expert in the cutting and printing of douban blocks. This print was made with 23 small blocks cut from fragments of pear wood—each block individually registered—then printed with water-soluble colours (shuiyin).  In keeping with the archaistic flavour of his work, Wang adopted the studio name Jiuli fang (Hall of Nine Ancient Vessels).  

Muban Educational Trust registration number wancv005


Wu Jide (b. 1942)
Fleeting Years
Woodblock print
45 x 60 cm

Wu Jide knows the canal cities of Zhejiang province, as he grew up, studied and worked there. He illustrates the familiar theme of river dwelling, an ancient subject that goes back to the Song dynasty (960-1279). The white patches replicate the use of worn-out blocks. The inserted panel shows women weaving cloth, from the genre ‘women’s ten chores’—copied from Ming and Qing dynasty prints.  The clothing, bicycle and other details, however, indicate that this is a modern subject.

Muban Educational Trust registration number wuvjd008



Liang Dong (b. 1926)
Warm Water of the Dragon River
Woodblock print
32 x 76 cm

The special technique employed in this print is blind embossing, which creates bold white highlights on the white paper. It also outlines the crests of the hills and the rich black of the water.  This creates a different effect from black outlining in ink, as in traditional painting.  The print is a spring scene, as winter ice thaws on the Dragon River.  The small birds on the foreground ice block lend a sense of scale to the landscape.

Muban Educational Trust registration number liadv002


Wang Chao (b. 1974)
Foreign Images
Woodblock print
18 x 15 cm

Wang Chao is particularly interested in traditional printing techniques. Blind embossing (no.112) was a delicate technique used to decorate letter papers in the 17th century. Wang uses it in this book illustrating foreign objects, as well other traditional features—the thread-bound book format and colour block-printing from pearwood blocks.  His foreign images include a sewing machine, doll’s pram, rifles, lounge suits, matches and cigarettes.  The embossed figures on the prints suggest that some approach foreign innovations, while others turn away.

Muban Educational Trust registration number wancv006



Mo Ce (b. 1926)
Huangpu River
Woodblock print
34 x 50 cm

Mo Ce worked on a great range of subjects during his long career, from propaganda images of communal progress to apolitical landscapes and waterscapes.  He experimented with various techniques of shading and silhouetting.  In the 1980s, he used a technique that creates the feeling of looking through a screen, as in this print, depicting the Bund in Shanghai. Although it is made from a woodblock, it looks like the mechanical style of cutting seen in commercial, machine-cut zinc-line blocks. 

Muban Educational Trust registration number movcv006


Ying Tianqi (b. 1949)
Xidi Village Series No. 5
Woodblock print
49 x 60 cm

This one of more than thirty prints which Ying made based on the vernacular architecture of Xidi village in Yi county, Anhui province (south-eastern China). The printing blocks for these works were created by affixing a collage of differently-textured materials onto a thin sheet of plywood, which was then printed by relief-printing techniques. One of China’s most renowned printmakers, Ying has also turned to painting with multi-media collage techniques. Architectural memories are still his inspiration.

Muban Educational Trust registration number yintq013



Gao Rongsheng (b. 1952)
Forbidden City
Woodblock print
51 x 63 cm

Gao Rongsheng has used the intaglio printing technique here, printing the white gouache colour from the cut or incised area of the block.  The composition combines the geometric shapes so effective in graphic art with the tonal quality of painting.  The empty spaces are ambiguous—a quality much valued in Chinese art.  In 1999, Gao Rongsheng won the Gold Medal in the Ninth National Art Exhibition for this print, but he is equally well-known for his story illustrations.

Muban Educational Trust registration number gaors002


Yu Qihui (b. 1934)
Treasure II — Many Faces of the Buddha
Woodblock print
40 x 54 cm

Yu Qihui’s Treasure series illustrates scenes and sculptures from famous national monuments in China, including Buddhist caves and shrines, Silk Road sites and imperial tombs.  Here Yu shows two headless Bodhisattvas and an eleven-headed Guanyin. He is renowned for his revival of ‘dab printing,’ a technique derived from ancient Chinese ink rubbings.  He combines dabbing with conventional printing techniques, using opaque water-soluble colours. Through repeated printings and half-tones, he builds up a depth of colour to create a three-dimensional effect.

Muban Educational Trust registration number yuvqh004



Gu Zhijun (b. 1961)
The Heart of Painting and Literature
Woodblock print
89 x 66 cm

This is one of a series in which the artist wittily juxtaposes views and images of ancient and modern China. Here he contrasts modern technical innovation, represented by the jet aeroplane in a fan-format landscape, with scenes of traditional Suzhou, which was for centuries the heart of Chinese culture. This print also bears the pencilled name of his wife, Wang Jingping, who probably helped him with the print. 

Muban Educational Trust registration number yuvzj006


Chen Yuping (b. 1947)
Morning Mist
Woodblock print
40 x 40 cm

Chen Yuping was a hydraulic engineer in Heilongjiang before he studied printmaking and joined the artists of the Great Northern Wilderness. He is best known for his glorious landscapes printed with oil-bound colour (nos. 2,94).  Here, however, he used water-soluble colour to produce a completely different effect—more like a painting than a print.  His cutting of the woodblock is especially fine and precise, managing to create a natural reflection of the water, as well as the swans in mist.  

Muban Educational Trust registration number chepy007



Chen Qi (b. 1963)
Fan No. 1
Woodblock print
40 x 47 cm

This beautiful print contrasts the simple, painterly design of the fan with the background’s finely graded woodgrain. In his long career, Chen Qi has been a great experimenter and versatile innovator. His prints cover a wide range of subject matter, including landscape and urban scenes, and various series depicting single objects, such as instruments (no. 121), lotuses and furniture. He has also engaged in more spiritual and philosophical enquiries, with series of butterflies, waterscapes and abstract imagery.

Muban Educational Trust registration number cheqv007


Chen Qi (b. 1963)
Qin Series II
Woodblock print
14 x 71 cm

The print’s title, Qin II, refers to its place in Chen Qi’s series of twenty-one musical instruments, each represented in isolation against a blank background.  This print depicts an erhu, a two-stringed bowed lute, held vertically by the seated player.  Chen’s instruments are extremely realistic, designed in the boneless manner (without outlines).  Although Chen prints from plywood blocks, the absence of any woodgrain suggests that he sanded the blocks before cutting and printing (compare with no. 120).  

Muban Educational Trust registration number cheqv008

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