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冊頁二; ceye er (leaf 2) / 蜃市山水叁; Shenshi shanshui san (Phantom Landscape III)

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    2008,3012.2

  • Title (object)

    • 冊頁二; ceye er (leaf 2)

    Title (series)

    • 蜃市山水叁; Shenshi shanshui san (Phantom Landscape III)
  • Description

    Digital picture, inkjet print on Epson textured fine art paper

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 2007
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 45 centimetres ((original paper size) Imperial mount)
    • Width: 45 centimetres (image)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Content

        办证刻章
      • Inscription Comment

        Expression used as a public notarization to verify decrees or certificates.
      • Inscription Type

        signature and date
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Content

        蜃市山水叁 冊頁二 10/15
      • Inscription Transliteration

        shenshi shanshui san; ceye er
      • Inscription Comment

        Dated 2007.
  • Curator's comments

    The image is formatted as a circular fan and printed in tones of black and grey ink. It depicts a landscape in a style reminiscent of the “one-corner” compositions popular during the Southern Song dynasty (1127--1279). The image features a cut-off land spit in the lower right foreground that is dominated by telephone and electric poles; a broad panorama of mist-shrouded water in the midground; and rising mountains in the distance, in the upper left corner.
    The land in the foreground is densely covered by mid-level, old-fashioned, cheap apartment buildings and towering wooden poles that support wires and cables. The foot of the distant mountains is dotted by pylons for electric wires and the surface of the mountain is “textured” by skyscraper buildings.
    Instead of a red name seal the work bears a circular red relief seal with the characters (办证刻章) and a number. This expression is used as a public notarization to verify decrees or certificates. The artist’s seal refers to public notices put on public buildings that authorize razing them.The artist was born in China in Jiading (Shanghai area) and as a young student studied traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy before attending the Shanghai Fine Art Institute, where he specialized in decoration and design beginning in 1996. In 1999 he attended the China Fine Art Institute, Visual Communication Department, Shanghai branch. In 2005 he started his career as as an artist with the stated goal of "creating new forms of contemporary art."
    2008,3012.1 and 2008,3012.2 belong to a series of four images Yang created in 2007 in the format of circular, fan-shaped album leaves. The works all depict landscapes whose imagery borrows from and subverts the visual language and meaning of Southern Song dynasty paintings. Using photography and digital manipulation Yang Yongliang created a new visual effect in order to comment on the breathtaking and sometimes frightening pace of urbanization in modern China. His works at first glance appear to celebrate the beauty of nature by closely following the well-known format of Southern Song nature paintings, but his images are composed entirely of manmade materials, such as cement buildings, metal pylons, and telephone wires and electricity cables. China's massive population shifts into urban centres threaten the natural environment and put stress on traditional agrarian ways of community-based life. People's direct ties to a natural landscape are rapidly disappearing. Agrarian lifestyle is being replaced by the throbbing pace of urban life and all it entails. A new emphasis on the individual and personal economic gain has fostered a new lifestyle that brings with it pseudo-anonymity as people crowd together and live in monumental skyscrapers where you seldom know your neighbours or have family. The buildings too are often cut off from natural surroundings.
    Yang Yongliang's digital manipulations are clever in their inversion of the imagery of Song dynasty painters and he has created works that are themselves visually attractive. His cold, hard urban images possess a layer of romantic beauty with their mists and towering forms. By making his works "beautiful" he has managed to make them much more than a mockery of modern life. Instead they subtley pose the difficult question of whether urban life can be simultaneously loathsome and posses an intrinsic beauty. Yang carefully made these riffs on Southern Song landscapes because the earlier works have long been regarded in China as a sublime expression of nature's beauty and mystery. Are Yang's images meant to be taken as expressions of a city's beauty or of the terror of urban encroachment.
    Every detail of Yang's compositions intentionally recalls Song dynasty painters who employed brush and ink techniques to create soft washes for mists and distant mountains and called upon a variety of ink brushstrokes to outline craggy trees and texture land surfaces by imbuing them with the feel of rock, soil, and low vegetation. The traditional texture strokes, or cun, have been recast into a modern idiom in Yang's work. He pioneered a method of using digitally manipulated photographic images of buildings, including skyscrapers, and of telephone poles and pylons for suspending electric wires as cun. He arranges and layers these stark modern images, sometimes veiling them by mist, so that they appear remarkably close to the Southern Song prototypes. Yet, some modern elements read with naked clarity thereby ensuring that the viewer simultaneously sees the modern and the ancient, toggling back and forth between the two readings of the image as "12th century landscape" and modern China. His images seem simultaneously beautiful and repulsive, restful and threatening, timeless and changing. Yang's work forces us to ponder China’s modernization.
    The artist comments on his own work in a few statements that support the s above. Yang writes, “City and Landscape, I love them and hate them at the same time. I love the familiarity of the city, more so to hate it growing too fast and invading everything around it an unexpected speed. " And "I love the depth and inclusiveness of the traditional Chinese art, more so to hate its non-progress[ive] attitude. I have input this complex feeling to my blood and lift it out to form my artwork. Ancient Chinese expressed their appreciation of nature and feeling for it by painting the Landscape. In contrast, I make my Landscape to criticise the realities in [before] my eyes.” [from the sales catalogue, Phantom Landscape, OFoto Gallery, late 2007-early 2008]
    Yang’s use of digital photography in a painterly way is itself an act that resonates with and updates traditional Chinese artistic expression. A lot of creative energy in China over the last few centuries hase centred on manipulating painted imagery into formats suitable for other medium—taking paintings as a lead for the imagery on ceramics or on jade boulder carvings. Yang enters into this conceptual framework by taking the medium of photography and digitally manipulates it so that the end result is a contemporary art form that seems simultaneously to be both a painting and a photography print.In his landscapes, Yang Yongliang achieves strikingly visual effects by digitally manipulating photographic images. At first sight, the two prints appear like idyllic landscapes painted in ink, reminiscent of classic landscapes from the Song dynasty (960–1279). On closer inspection, Yang has substituted trees with telegraph poles and mountains with clusters of skyscrapers, pointing to the rapid transformation of cities and landscapes in present-day China.

    More 

  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    2010 May-Sep, BM, Dept of Asia, The Printed Image in China
    2012 5th May -29th July, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ‘The Printed Image in China’

  • Condition

    New, no damage.

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    2008

  • Acquisition notes

    Seen by Jan Stuart at OFOTO gallery in Beijing in April 08 and order placed later that month from London.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    2008,3012.2

Digital image by Yang Yongliang ??? (b. 1980).   Phantom Landscape III –Pages [sic] 2, 2007  ?????  shenshi shanshui san   Digital picture.  Inkjet print; Epson textured fine art paper  45 x 45 cm;  number 10 of an edition of 15    The image is formatted as a circular fan and printed in tones of black and grey ink. It depicts a landscape in a style reminiscent of the “one-corner” compositions popular during the Southern Song dynasty (1127--1279). The image features a cut-off land spit in the lower right foreground that is dominated by telephone and electric poles; a broad panorama of mist-shrouded water in the midground; and rising mountains in the distance, in the upper left corner.     The  land in the foreground is densely covered by mid-level, old-fashioned, cheap apartment buildings and towering wooden poles that support wires and  cables. The foot of the distant mountains is dotted by pylons for electric wires and the surface of the mountain is “textured” by skyscraper buildings.      Instead of a red name seal the work bears a circular red relief seal with the characters (????) and a number.  This expression is used as a public notarization to verify decrees or certificates. The artist’s seal refers to public notices put  on public buildings that authorize razing them.

Digital image by Yang Yongliang ??? (b. 1980). Phantom Landscape III –Pages [sic] 2, 2007 ????? shenshi shanshui san Digital picture. Inkjet print; Epson textured fine art paper 45 x 45 cm; number 10 of an edition of 15 The image is formatted as a circular fan and printed in tones of black and grey ink. It depicts a landscape in a style reminiscent of the “one-corner” compositions popular during the Southern Song dynasty (1127--1279). The image features a cut-off land spit in the lower right foreground that is dominated by telephone and electric poles; a broad panorama of mist-shrouded water in the midground; and rising mountains in the distance, in the upper left corner. The land in the foreground is densely covered by mid-level, old-fashioned, cheap apartment buildings and towering wooden poles that support wires and cables. The foot of the distant mountains is dotted by pylons for electric wires and the surface of the mountain is “textured” by skyscraper buildings. Instead of a red name seal the work bears a circular red relief seal with the characters (????) and a number. This expression is used as a public notarization to verify decrees or certificates. The artist’s seal refers to public notices put on public buildings that authorize razing them.

Reproduced by permission of the artist. © The Trustees of the British Museum

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