Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chinese printmakers leave me ponderous.

"Why'd you think I'd put out your fire? 
Why'd you think I'd put out your fire? 
Don't you know I breathe in fire? 
Breathe out fire?" -- Tuneyards

I'm relatively chill this evening. Come on in, feel free to chillax. I'd offer you a G&T, but the fridge shelves are barren of tonic. Perhaps a cuppa? Too lazy to make proper chai, even though it would smell so nice, but I could certainly heat up the wonderfully speckled orange tea kettle. The cheap boombox has swung away from its heavy rotation of  Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and back to the Tuneyards end of things. The Regret woman is drying on a wooden panel in the basement, under her starry sky.

The gnatty things in the kitchen are still flitting about, despite a ruthless paring down of three different cupboard areas. I discovered some ridiculous things like unopened black bean garlic sauce from 2004, two jars of hoisin sauce that were at their prime before 2005. I have 3 POUNDS of cornstarch. Wanna thicken a sauce? I'm your girl.

So, as you can see, a quiet night. Fall is settling in.

Am contemplating a week's vacation, starting tomorrow late afternoon. It's been a long time since I have taken/given myself this much time. Respite. Would have loved to taken it while it was hot, so I could spend the days basking out in a park, eating ginger scones and melty chocolate, reading and falling asleep on a blanket. But now maybe I'll divide it between artwork in the basement, running in pleasantly chilled air, going on little day trips. I simultaneously want to fill it with tons of plans/outings and to leave it this blank sheet of possibility. So luxurious! Like window shopping, but with time. The pleasure of the holding, without possession.

On a similar note, Maestra & I checked out the UMMA Chinese woodblock print exhibit today. It was her third visit and she idly mused over which pieces she would own, if she could. Simply put, the exhibit is mind-blowing. If you haven't bothered because you thought: "quaint" or "staid," clear off some calendar time before the 23rd. The scale alone of most of the pieces is impressive, but the artistry of the line work, and the variety of line, especially when considering every single line--out of thousands--reflects a cut or a gouge into wood...whew. I can't really say anything adequate.

Tried to locate a good image of Builders by Dai Daguan, though this is all I could come up with. You can see snippets of it behind him. The powerful torso and amazing hands of a workman yielding a shovel. A half-erected skyscraper arcs up behind him, but the energy in the lines is reminiscent of the sea. The woodblock is easily 7'x 4 1/2', if not larger.

If you visit the link at the beginning of the paragraph, you can see one of two reduction cuts by Lin Yanpeng. Her landscapes are rich, lush, quiet. You can almost feel how thick the vegetation is, hear the rustling of tall grasses. I'm not being precious.

Two stunning self-portraits are also on offer from Wen Mujiang -- if you're not in the area, visit the link for a cool slide show.

I usually jot things down in art museums, but I kinda fell down on this score. The only quote I snagged was from Fang Limin:

"In the end, human beings are at their most direct and most honest without clothes. That's why I like to draw naked bodies. That is why in my prints people are tangled and piled on top of one another. Even people who look not at all connected are tied together by so many little strings. It doesn't matter how you struggle."  

The sentiment has been expressed myriad times, but it still holds. I like the string imagery, followed by the more fatalistic or ominous sentiment, though obviously the connections are a mixture of freedom and limitation, like anything else...


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