June 25, 2019

Sound from the East

        Here’s a wild and amazing wood block print by Dai Zhengsheng (China, b. 1954).  Given its title, A Distant Sound from the East, I feel sure it must have deep significance, or at least a background story for its imagery, but I don’t have any information about what that might be.  Dai says, “When I am creating artwork, the starting point and the goal of expression in my work is to elucidate and clarify traditional Chinese culture and the progression of original creative power in life, by means of using direct, condensed, pure and profound woodcut language.”  Which isn’t really very helpful.  You can see if you peer closely (don’t forget that you can click the image to see it at least a bit bigger) that there are figures in the facets of the various shapes: something like a cat at the lower left, somebody reading a book in the bottom middle, figures with staves on the sides of the large central block…  The whole thing evokes the view from an airplane, and the rays of light from glowing clouds, and some sort of superhuge robot like a prism with arms and legs.  The whole thing is quite large, about three feet square (90cm) and full of densely detailed carving over the entire surface.  It’s technically very impressive, as well as being visually fascinating.  I’d love to get a look at it in person.

[Picture: A Distant Sound from the East, woodcut by Dai Zhengsheng, 1998 (Image from Ashmolean Library).]

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