I go Savannah quite often, my daughter is a student atSCAD, (Savannah College of Art & Design.) Every visit I always go to the SCAD Museum of Art if there is something new to see since my last visit. Last time I was blown away by Dustin Yellin’s Triptych. This last visit did not disappoint either. Aside from an Oscar De La Renta retrospective, the thought-provoking art of Xu Bing, Things Are Not What They First Appear, was a major highlight. There are two different projects, one in the lobby and another in the farthest room from the entrance. This post covers the project in the lobby.
Works in the lobby are from the Background Story series. The main piece, Background Story: Double Ninth Festival Landscape is an almost fifteen feet tall contemporary interpretation of a landscape from a painted scroll from the Qing dynasty. Viewing the work from the front it towers in the lobby and is a large surface of backlit frosted glass, with the atmospheric scene of a traditional Chinese landscape typically done in ink and watercolor. On viewing the rear of the work, I was absolutely astounded as to how the work was created. Essentially it is one huge light box with the clever use of materials one would never expect: plastic grocery bags, dried leaves and twigs, bubble wrap, and torn newspapers to name just a few items. All are recycled or discarded materials.
The second installation is small light boxes lining the wall with a single element normally seen in a traditional Chinese landscape. Underneath the box is the material that was used to create it. Most are natural materials aside from the blue plastic shopping bags that were used to create the fish image.
The third piece is another representative copy of a traditional Chinese Painting by Zhang Daqian, The South Mountain Landscape. The blue tones you see in the front are achieved with the same blue shopping bags in the back. Again the images are created with trash and natural debris.
I love when artists re-purpose materials to create a new vision!
Xu Bing is a Chinese born artist who lived in the United States for eighteen years. He currently resides in Beijing and serves as the president for the Central Academy of Fine Arts. You can visit his website here. The Xu Bing, Things Are Not What They First Appear, exhibition will be at the SCAD Museum of Art until July 3, 2015.