Shao Wenhuan contemplates traditional Chinese culture from an alternative perspective through the long-term series Floating Jade. He takes a section of landscape from a classic ink painting as his source, then digitalises it through 3D imaging to create the landscape we see.
Visually, the mountains and rocks have a high degree of fidelity to reality, akin to photography, but the realistic details only exist in the paintings. Instead of drawing from real life – from what our eyes see – the landscapes in Floating Jade come from an ideal world, one created by the literati’s brush. As virtual synthetic images, they are the opposite of how photography ‘draws from life’, highlighting an anti-logic inherent in the series.
What we see in these images has never existed in the real world, yet they do share a natural relationship with reality and tradition. This sense of familiarity is separated from us by a pool of water, turning the landscape into a lone island and hinting at our awkward relationship with a traditional culture that is at once intimate and distant. This lone isle is, for the artist, both a spiritual home and a utopia that is impossible to reach. Just as traditions are both far and near, full of feelings but also out of reach – and yet in the distance there is a gentle touch.
A realm of dreams, as if nothing has been.
Excerpt from “Searching for a Sense of Belonging in Silent Desolation – on Shao Wenhuan’s New Works from 2015” by Liu Chenxu