Chambers Fine Art announces the opening on January 17th of Rocks and Art: Nature Found and Made. In this exhibition Chinese scholar's rocks from the Ming and Qing dynasties are juxtaposed with works by contemporary artists from China and America who are responsive in widely different ways to this venerable Chinese tradition.
Chinese literati had long been interested in ornamental rocks as elements of gardens but in the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1126), the appreciation of rocks as art objects became a widespread fashion. Hugh Scogin Jr. has noted in his introduction to the catalogue that "as an object of meditation, the collected rock incarnated the inspirational energy of nature in the man-made environment of a room."
Harvested from many different areas in China, the different types of rock were carefully selected and mounted on custom-made stands before being displayed in the domestic environment. The current exhibition includes a representative selection of stones of different types.
Among the contemporary artists in the exhibition, Zhan Wang deals most directly with the tradition, creating stainless steel replicas of natural rocks. Sui Jianguo juxtaposes rocks with other materials, frequently iron, which explore the relationship between the man-made and the natural. Qiu Deshu uses multiple layers of torn and abraded paper to create panels and scrolls that Hugh Scogin Jr. has described as "an analogue of the natural objects that were his initial source of inspiration."
Brice Marden visited Suzhou in 1995 where Taihu rocks are prominent features in the gardens. The linear rhythms of the paintings and etchings of the Suzhou series are deeply indebted to ideas about the flow of energy going through the stones. Using the shape of a scholar's rock in one of the paintings from the Chinese Landscape series, Roy Lichtenstein made his own Scholar's Rock in 1996. Martin Kline is represented in the exhibition by recent bronzes, some cast from his own works in wax and others cast from natural objects with wax accretions.