ZENG XIAOJUN (b. 1954), 2003
Ink on paper (2 scrolls)
Dimensions: each image: 58 ¾ inches high, 32 ½ inches wide.
each scroll: 71 inches high, 35 inches wide (70 inches wide total).
Zeng Xiaojun’s landscapes offer a modern take on a favored theme of classical scholars. Whereas the landscape paintings of Ming Dynasty literati, with whom Zeng identifies, portray the vastness of nature and its infinite grandeur, Zeng’s bold rendering of mountains and rivers foreshorten distance and bring them surprisingly close to the viewer. Their visual immediacy makes them more forceful, and more intimate. In this unusual dual-scroll painting, Zeng explores the possibilities of brush stroke textures and of positive and negative space. A mountain is shown viewed from the side, its peak in the top left corner and its slope diagonally across the painting into the bottom right corner, where a sharply etched tree suggests the edge of the rapidly disappearing rock face.
As one of the best-known and most important contemporary ink painters active in China today, Zeng Xiaojun was born in Beijing in 1954 and spent his teenage years living amidst the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. He attended the Central Art and Craft Academy of Beijing, from which he graduated in 1981. In 1983, Zeng Xiaojun moved to the United States, taking up residence in Boston. In 1997, he returned to Beijing, where he now lives and works. An avid collector of Ming and Qing furniture as well as scholar’s objects, Zeng Xiaojun has been called a modern-day “asesthete-Renaissance man.” Zeng Xiaojun’s art is in many private and public collections, including the permanent collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. In 2012, he will be featured in an exhibition with Liu Dan at the Musée Guimet in Paris.