Traditional Chinese Watermark Woodcut Prints Exhibition
The earliest form of printmaking is the woodcut watermark duplicated print. The world's first existing print is in the Diamond Sutra, made in the 9th year of Xiantong Period of the Tang Dynasty (AD 868), which is now in the British Library, London. Professor Lu Ping from the Central Academy of Fine Arts authorised the repair and copy of the original version. The duplicate, which is to be exhibited, is now in the art gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China.
Chinese traditional watermark woodcuts were engraved by craftsmen who followed a design by an artist. One knife would be used to carve the entire plate. The technique was already advanced during the Tang Dynasty, yet became more sophisticated throughout the Wanli and Tianqi Periods of the Ming Dynasty. During the Ming Dynasty, the books and paintings of the Ten Bamboo Rooms revealed the best of the ink’s permeability in the halo of colours.
This exhibition is divided into three parts:
Chinese ancient print
2,000 years after the original was created, Lu Ping’s version of the Diamond Sutra has restored the defects existing in the original version. Walk into the British Library and Sunny Art Centre to have a conversation with time, and to discover the traditions of Chinese printmaking within a British context.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, artists began to work without preliminary designs. Instead, they used knives directly on the wood. Without the design in pen, imitations or copies were difficult to produce. Instead, prints were achieved using a mimeograph, resulting in different effects from previous techniques.
After 1980, artists, including Bao Tao and Cui Dezheng who are to be exhibited, continued to use the traditional technique of watermark woodcut. In particular, Paint was applied to each plate individually, resulting in unique designs. If we consider the core values of watermark woodcut, we may begin to appreciate the extraordinary importance, and fortuitous impact, the technique had on printmaking throughout history. By considering the work of contemporary artists, it is evident how the traditional method of watermark woodcut printing is being used alongside contemporary concepts.
Bao Tao expresses his interpretation of the identity of women in the language of art through the topic of “the other”. He argues that, to modern society, women are “the other” and therefore, problems pertaining to them should repeatedly be raised and discussed to find a solution.
Cui Dezheng’s work explores the spirit of “acquiring knowledge through the study of the essence of things”. The elegance and emotions of Ukiyo-e and the rational expression of modern Western abstraction are all wittingly affected by “the other”.