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Chinese Gardens for Living: Illusion into Reality at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Xie Xiaoming, Above the Clouds. 2002-2003. Each: 15 X 15 X 5 cm. Copyright the artist.

DRESDEN.- This summer an exhibition by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in association with the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), Beijing, will be presenting contemporary art from China. “Chinese Gardens for Living: Illusion into Reality” will show works by famous Chinese designers, architects, painters and photographers who have explored the philosophy behind the Chinese garden.

In the Far East, a “garden” is not only considered to be an ideal place for living but is also a practiced philosophical concept. A “garden” is subject to the law of Yin and Yang, the principle of duality whereby opposite phenomena are always in a state of mutual attraction and dynamic equilibrium, the ultimate goal being harmony between the two poles. In the exhibition “Chinese Gardens for Living: Illusion into Reality” contemporary Chinese artists reflect on this “garden” philosophy and apply it to the dynamic life of present day. This gives rise to works of art which combine to create a living “garden,” in both a physical and visionary sense. The group of artists includes Bai Ming, Lu Shengzong, as well as Zhu Yufan. Exhibiting their art works in contemporary art galleries in Berlin, Kassel, Brussels, Montpellier, and New York, many of these artists are not unknown in Germany, Europe, and the US. From 28th June until 31st October 2008, sculptures, ceramics, paintings, photographs and architectural installations will be transforming the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in the Bergpalais and selected areas of the park into a place replete with ideas and visions.

Inside the Bergpalais the exhibition will be divided into three sections: photography and painting, architectonic display and environmental installations, and sculpture and designed objects. Illusionistic display walls will create an artistic “garden promenade”. The essential design elements and spiritual pursuits of a Chinese garden – picturesque rocks, reflecting water and tranquil light as well as penetrating visions, intimate spaces and deep emotional engagements – are to be found and sensed in the works of art. Traditional garden scenes and views of nature are transferred to the spines of books, ceramics and clothes, among other materials. Both Western and Far Eastern artistic trends are drawn upon in this primarily contemporary show. For example, the works of art reveal the influence of American Minimal Art and Conceptual Art, as well as making references to traditional Chinese ink painting and porcelain art.

A Chinese garden is designed as a place that integrates different natural and cultural elements. Stones, water, light, natural views, architectural spaces and personal envisioning are arranged and devised in such a way as to create a space in which man can explore his existence in communication with Dao. Furthermore, a “garden” itself is a piece of art that is also meant to be part of the reality. The exhibition will transport the traditional image of a Chinese garden into the present day and show that a “garden” is a living place which will continue to be relevant in the future.

Schloss Pillnitz (Pillnitz Palace) provides an excellent backdrop for this exciting exhibition. In the 18th century, Dresden and the Saxon-Polish court were at the focus of the European vogue for all things Chinese, known as Chinoiserie. Schloss Pillnitz still bears testimony to that – in the architecture of the palace, in the ornate décor of its rooms and in the design of the park. Thus, Schloss Pillnitz with its Oriental flair is the ideal location for an exhibition about the contemporary reception of Chinese gardens.

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