Past Exhibition

Beyond the Jade Terrace

27 Sep - 08 Nov  |  2014
Chu ChuWang MengshaZhang Yirong Catalogue
Chu Chu (b.1975)
Wang Mengsha (b.1982)
Yao Yuan (b.1971)
Zhang Yirong (b.1979)

In the 6th Century A.D., the scholar-poet Xu Ling assembled an anthology of love poems entitled New Songs from a Jade Terrace, the title referencing the luxurious palace apartments in to which upper-class women were often relegated. Since then, "Jade Terrace" has served as an abstract literary reference to an ideal, eternal place where immortal women gather to enjoy aesthetic pleasures. Of course, mere mortal women can also enjoy artistic pursuits and many have left their mark on Chinese art history. Despite restraints placed upon them by tradition-bound Confucian society, there has been a handful of pioneering female artists, such as legendary calligrapher Madame Wei of the Jin Dynasty (265-420), who were able to engage in the predominately male-dominated art discourse of the last millennium. Conditions for Chinese female artists evolved, and during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), The Jade Terrace History of Calligraphy and The Jade Terrace History of Painting were published, both devoted exclusively to artistic accomplishments by women. Most recently, in our post-Mao contemporary Chinese art era, female artists have unprecedented opportunities: formerly, it was believed that lack of education was a desirable female virtue. Today, Chinese art school attendance is in equilibrium between the sexes.

This September, the Alisan Fine Arts Gallery is proud to present Beyond the Jade Terrace, a showcase of four standout female artists from China whose ink paintings offer a refreshingly new aesthetic sensibility. While none of these artists would consider themselves to be feminist artists as such, they are each interested in applying a feminine perspective to examine the past and look to the future in ways that redefine contemporary ink art in history, culture, and the global context. Yao Yuan (b.1971) re-envisions traditional Chinese still life and landscape themes, often contrasting conventional subjects with modern visual elements from daily life. Chu Chu (b.1975) brings together her love of photography and calligraphy to her unorthodox ink on paper compositions. Expanding the Song Dynasty (1127-1279) artistic tradition of direct observation and dedicated study of nature, Zhang Yirong (b. 1979) captures her painted subjects in exquisite, almost analytical detail. And in a more spontaneous fashion, Wang Mengsha (b.1982) composes colorful, playful and whimsical portrayals of beauty and pleasure. Independent thinking and unbounded by traditional expression, each of these four artists has already discovered her own voice in the age-old ink tradition, innovating and pushing the boundaries of the language of the brush. Together their art suggests the shifting paradigm and the rising self-awareness among women artists in China today.

This exhibition is curated by Tiffany Beres.


As part of South Island Art Day: Sat 27 Sept, 12-8pm