River Flows East
The Yangtze River flows, like most Chinese rivers, towards the East. It rises in the Tibetan Highlands, loops the breadth of the Chinese hinterland, and drains into the Yellow Sea through one of the world’s greatest river deltas. Along its route this vast water network generates a wide range of physical and imaginary landscapes. It has created some of China’s most celebrated scenery – both natural and manmade. It forms the mental backdrop for some of China’s most significant cultural achievements and is the theatre for the enactment of the most notable historical incident of the Chinese imagination. As one of the main channels for communication across the continent the river has also long been - usually in counter flow from East to West - the chief agent for the exchange of ideas and of manufactured goods. This phenomenon is most spectacularly witnessed in the 21st century with the current fast paced process of industrialization and mass urbanization. In this exhibition, River Flows East, we sought to demonstrate ways in which these artists are inheritors of a both Classical and Modern Southern Chinese aesthetic. It offered ways in which these Chinese artists are responding to the urgent globalized issues related to the social and environmental demands of economic development and the loss of physical landscapes dear to the imagination. A bilingual catalogue not only included works included in the exhibition but also a range of other visual material dating from the early 20th century to the present day relating to the Yangtze of the imagination including photographic works by non-Chinese photographers and artists viewing the region from their own differing perspectives; stills from important films and documentaries that treat the theme of the Yangtze of the imagination; and postcards, guidebooks and other personal touristic memorabilia. Together these offer a greater insight into cultural significance of the Yangtze of the imagination and hopefully will allow deeper understanding of the works included in the exhibition. Participating artists: Hong Lei, Huang Yuanqing, Luo Yongjin, Shen Fan, Qiu Zhijie Wu Jian'an, and Yang Yongliang. River Flows East was an exhibition commissioned by The Collection, curated by Simon Kirby.
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