The Other Lines of Time

Huayuan Art

Oct. 7, 2024 - Oct. 14, 2016

119 Ludlow Street
New York, 10013
(212) 574 4579

New York – Huayuan Art is pleased to announce The Other Lines Of Time, an exhibition featuring a selection of Dizhang paintings from Huayuan Collection, on view at 119 Ludlow Street from October 7 through October 14, 2016. Please join us for an opening reception on Friday, October 7, 6-8 pm.

This body of paintings – created with traditional dry fresco technique – is dominated by enigmatical and compelling episodes from the ancient literatures and murals from the caves in Dunhuang (translates as “blazing beacon”), Western China. It aims to shed light onto the complexities of time, permanence, and continuity through the regional history and mythology.

With their fractured surface and muted color tone, these paintings recall the distinctive appearance of the original murals in Dunhuang caves. The term Dizhang refers to the layers of soil applied onto a rough surface to prepare it for painting. In the original process, several layers of sandy earth, washed clay, kaolin, plant fiber, and water are mixed and applied on the rocky cave wall. The Dizhang paintings in this exhibition employ this archaic, near extinct method, applying on wood panels soil and mineral pigments collected near the original cave site.

The first cave of Dunhuang was carved in 366 CE. Over the next ten centuries, more than 900 caves containing murals and painted sculptures were created in the area, by a community of monks, artists, craftsmen, clergy, local ruling elite, foreign dignitaries, merchants, military officers, and emperors. Only in the 14th century, with the discovery of sea routes and subsequent decline of the Silk Road, this collective act came to a halt, followed by a complete regional freeze over the next six centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, Hungarian archaeologist Aurel Stein and French orientalist Paul Eugene Pelliot unearthed this treasure trove sealed in time in the middle of the desert. Through the extraction and documentation of the artworks, Dunhuang was reopened to a new European audience.

Against the backdrop of one of Pelliot’s Borgesian map of the region (first published in Pelliot’s Les grottoes de Touen-Houang, 1920), these paintings construct uncanny narratives in which the past and present co-exist and standard topology for time is questioned. In the triptych King Deer, Entering the Womb, and Leaving the Palace, scenes from Siddhartha’s different cycles of life are presented in parallel, evoking the concept of Eternal Return – endless cycles of birth, life, and death from which one seeks liberation.

“The artist’s masterful use of lines, colors, and composition creates a powerful sense of motion and a sustained visual tension that expands beyond the painting framework,” said Rae Wang, the exhibition curator. “The lines, alternately swirling and undulating, renders the figures as dynamic rather than static to appear at once immediate and atemporal, challenging the viewer to question their assumptions about time and permanence.”

Huayuan Art


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