Zhou Shenghua (1948-2000)
37 x 67 cm
Zhou Shenghua made his career in Heilongjiang province. In 1958, one hundred thousand demobilized soldiers had been sent to the virgin forests of China's northeastern border, primarily to promote agricultural development. The area is known as Beidahuang (Great Northern Wilderness). An important group of artists developed a distinctive style around the region’s glorious landscape. Zhou was part of the second generation of Beidahuang printmakers. This mid-career print, with its flat, geometric perspective, is unlike his usual open style (see no. 92).
Muban Educational Trust registration number zhosh005
Zhou Shenghua (1948-2000)
The Winter Journey
49 x 58 cm
Compared with no.91, with its flat, bright feeling of folk art, this print is much more typical of Zhou Shenghua’s style and subject matter: a delicately cut, subtly coloured wintry scene of animals in the forests. Zhou created texture to give dimensional effect to the wide-open landscape. He was much honoured during his career, winning numerous prizes. He exhibited internationally, including Taiwan, and travelled to Japan and Russia on cultural exchange missions.
Muban Educational Trust registration number zhosh001
Hao Boyi (1938-2019)
47 x 70 cm
In 1958, one hundred thousand demobilised soldiers were sent to develop the vast wilderness of Heilongjiang—an area known as the Great Northern Wilderness (Beidahuang). Artists were sent to publicize the achievements in agriculture and construction. Hao Boyi was the youngest of the leading artists from the first generation of Beidahuang printmakers, and he trained many of the second and third-generation artists. Trees, seasonal landscapes, cranes and village life are his favourite themes, exemplified by this nostalgic, lyrical work.
Muban Educational Trust registration number haoby014
Chen Yuping (b. 1947)
My Home on the Songhua River
37 x 65 cm
Chen Yuping’s works have been called “symphonic,” a description that suits print no. 2 better than this earlier-created one. There is rhythmic flow to the successive bands of colour and varied motifs, yet the scene is precise and carefully ordered. Here are Chen’s glorious hues in a landscape celebrating his homeland, but it is not wholly without political content: roads, tractors and boats signify economic development, and agricultural abundance is emphasized by the crops covering the land.
Muban Educational Trust registration number cheyp061
Chao Mei (b. 1931)
66 x 59 cm
Chao Mei was sent to Heilongjiang in 1958 and is the most influential of the Great Northern Wilderness (Beidahuang) artists. In the 1960s and 70s, Chao’s landscapes often served as the backdrop for propaganda themes. In the 1980s and 90s, his strong, romantic colours emphasized the beauty of the vast expanses of land and sky in Heilongjiang. Autumn Glory observes the season’s turning colours, the yellow and red trees distinct from the stylized stand of green trees behind them.
Muban Educational Trust registration number chamv001
Chao Mei (b. 1931)
Song of the Eagle
61 x 100 cm
From the 1990s onwards, Chao Mei’s work moved gradually from naturalistic detail to greater abstraction, with no political content. Many works, such as this, place natural motifs—mostly birds, sometimes cows-- against a geometric mosaic representing the landscape. The images are simple and powerful, with rich, often contrasting colours, which are still the hallmark of his work. Two galleries have been established in his name, in Helongjiang’s capital, Harbin, and in his hometown, Heze, in Shandong.
Muban Educational Trust registration number chamv041
Zhao Yannian (1924-2014)
Nightmare Series No. 1
58 x 49 cm
In the late 1970s, during the brief period of ‘Scar’ art--so named for the 1978 novella Scar (Shanghen) by Lu Xinhua—writers and artists felt able to express their feelings about the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Zhao Yannian has written openly about his terrible experiences during those years and made the hauntingly expressive Nightmare series on this theme. This print, however, is dated June 1989, which is likely a reference to the events at Tian’anmen Square that month.
Muban Educational Trust registration number zhayn005
Su Xinping (b. 1960)
46 x 61 cm
Su Xinping is unusually versatile, creating paintings, prints and videos. His prints employ etching, woodblock and lithographic techniques. Xu grew up in far-off Inner Mongolia, but has spent much of his career in Beijing, where he is the Deputy Director of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He laments China’s urbanisation and ecological decay in desolate landscape scenes. His portraits comment ironically on materialism and rapid social change, particularly the rituals of business and political relationships.
Muban Educational Trust registration number xuvxp001
Lou Zhuhu (b. 1971)
47 x 56 cm
Lou Zhuhu is one of the younger artists in this exhibition, having grown up in the reform era after the Cultural Revolution. Economic development had primacy, and politics was much less intrusive in people’s daily lives. This print is a cynical presentation of urban life in China. Nobody looks at anyone else as people make their way along the streets at lunchtime. Buses, cars, bicycles and retail electrical goods are all available, but community spirit does not seem to feature.
Muban Educational Trust registration number louzh011
Liu Qingyuan (b. 1972)
On the Train
31 x 24 cm
Li Qingyuan says his art’s purpose is to observe “the fast-changing and bizarre life” around him, “like an amusing and informal experiment in which tradition finds its parodies in contemporary life.” The style of this print resembles the crudely cut works of the early Modern Woodcut Movement (late 1920s-early 30s), but the technique is different: the white lines and marks--the cut areas-- are negative, revealing the black marks and shapes that form the image.
Muban Educational Trust registration number liuqy001
Zhang Minjie (b. 1959)
55 x 64 cm
Zhang Minjie worked as a stage designer and actor in Hebei. He was badly injured in the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. Both experiences continue to influence his life and work, which includes painting, sculpture, lithography and woodblock printing. His surrealistic prints are stage spectacles with crowds of figures in motion—dancers and acrobats, farmers, workers and soldiers. Some march in stiff formation; others are unsynchronized, arriving nowhere, but few make it outside the walls. Dull colours add a sense of alienation.
Muban Educational Trust registration number zhamj009
Yang Feng (b. 1960)
61 x 58 cm
As in print no. 28 illustrating Lu Xun’s hometown, Jiang Feng has created a varied cast of characters. In this fantastically complex image of people and symbolic objects, the artist turns his attention to urban life in contemporary China. Vehicles, buildings and businesses are squeezed into this vision of Jianguo Road, a main throughfare in Beijing’s Central Business District. They surround a jam-packed crowd, where everyone appears to be concerned only with his own affairs.
Muban Educational Trust registration number yanfv010
Kou Yanming (b. 1961)
79 x 61 cm
Kou Yanming is one of the third generation of Beidahuang printmakers based in Heilongjiang. He moved to Guangzhou, however, working now in that metropolis of fifteen million people. Rather than the glorious, colourful scenery of the Great Northern Wilderness, here Kou presents an intense vision of city housing blocks. The print was surely modelled on Michael Wolf’s photographic series, Density of Architecture, which explores the public-private aspects of Hong Kong’s high-rise structures, with visible details like laundry and plants.
Muban Educational Trust registration number kouym001
Guo Shuang (b. 1990)
Going to Market
20 x 77 cm
Guo Shuang cuts bold, panoramic street scenes from hardwood blocks printed with oil-bound colour. Her complex images of urban life show jostling crowds of workers, business dealers, eccentrics and people-watchers. Looked at closely, the variety of individual character types is remarkable. Guo Shuang won First Prize in the inaugural Muban Woodblock Printmaking Awards competition in 2015. She is now a post-graduate student at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.
Muban Educational Trust registration number guosv003
Wu Jiantang (b. 1986)
Utopia — Games
80 x 60 cm
This is a very personal print. Wu Jiantang says that it reflects an invisible wall between human beings in a vast modern city. It depicts some of his experiences when he first moved from rural Guizhou to Beijing for art college. His imagery is also influenced by folk tales of Guizhou and magical realism in Latin American literature. Utopia-Games is one of a series, whose theme is the difference between the desire for an ideal world and reality.
Muban Educational Trust registration number wuvjt002