Introduction to the exhibition

Discover the secrets behind this shadow-and-light box installation by contemporary artist Xu Bing, inspired by a Chinese painting in the Museum’s collection.

Nearly 5 metres tall, Xu Bing’s artwork is made using materials such as hemp fibres, dry plants, corn husks, crumpled paper and debris sourced from sites across London, placed on a backlit screen. Seen from the front, the work looks like the brush strokes of a Chinese painting, but step behind and the illusion is shattered. The installation was created on site by Xu Bing and will only exist for the duration of the display.

Related playlists


An introduction to the exhibition Xu Bing: Background story 7

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All Background Story 7 video and audio


An introduction to the exhibition

An installation by Xu Bing: Background Story 7.

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Watch the build in 60 seconds

The view from behind the screen.

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Watch the build in 60 seconds

The view from in front of the screen.

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An introduction to Chinese landscapes

Jan Stuart, Keeper of Asia, talks about the ancient tradition of Chinese landscape painting that finds resonance in contemporary art which formed the inspiration for Backround Story 7.

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