January 6, 2021

In the Landscape

         Here is a wood block print by Sui Cheng (China, b. 1965).  It uses bold arcs and swooshes to suggest a mountainous setting, perhaps a bit of a cave, and two figures sitting, apparently in contemplation.  To me, all those rounded shapes seem happy, and the puffy clouds and rainbow-patterned plants evoke a relatively warm, pleasant day.  The artist himself says that he is trying to distort and reorganize traditional subject matter “in order to experiment with the icon’s polysemy and the possibility of reinterpreting traditional imagery.”  I think all that must be over my head.  I look at this and enjoy the abstract pattern of shapes, with a little extra satisfaction from seeing the figures.  I find it cheerful and peaceful, which we all need more of as this year gets underway in continued stress, and I share it with you in that spirit.  If you enjoy any additional polysemy, all the better.
        Happy New Year!

[Picture: In the Landscape No. 4, woodcut by Sui Cheng, 2003 (Image from the Ashmolean Museum).]

1 comment:

Pax said...

Thanks for the prompt: I looked up polysemy in the dictionary. It's a word/concept that should be dear to a linguist's heart. I'm not entirely clear how the artist is exploring different meanings of the traditional (iconic?) Chinese painting subjects and styles, but it is an interesting print. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.