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Chinese artist enjoys ground-breaking exhibition in Britain

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-19 13:38

A leading Chinese artist has been heralded as "hugely important for contemporary Chinese art," in the wake of a new exhibition of his work at one of Britain's major museums.

Xu Bing, aged 58, is the vice president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and is one of China's most acclaimed living artists.

In "Landscape/Landscript" at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, several new pieces by Xu Bing are displayed, in the first exhibition anywhere of his landscape works, which includes works from throughout his career.

Xu Bing addresses the Chinese language through its pictorial qualities and its relationship with the tradition of Chinese landscape painting.

He uses Chinese characters to compose mountains, trees, clouds, and rivers.

Xinhua spoke to Shelagh Vainker, curator of Chinese art at the Ashmolean Museum, which houses one of Europe's leading collections of Chinese art.

Vainker said, "What every generation in the 1000-year-old Chinese landscape painting tradition has sought to do is to add to it, to do something different or in some way to integrate it and that is why it has lasted so long."

"What Xu Bing has done in these works is to breathe new life into it in the 21st century," Vainker added.

"He does it by using landscript, his own painting method which he started using in 1999, which takes characters and uses them to represent the forms that the characters depict. That is a method which is based on the fact that the earliest Chinese characters are pictograms," she explained.

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