Qiu Anxiong at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting

Exhibition Time: October 29, 2016–August 6, 2017

Organizer: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

In China, paintings that tell stories serve as powerful vehicles to promote political agendas and cultural values as well as to express personal thoughts.The complex art of Chinese pictorial storytelling will be the focus of Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting, opening this fall in The Metropolitan Museumof Art’s Chinese painting and calligraphy galleries. Featuring some 100 worksdating from the 12th century to the present, the exhibition will reveal the structural and expressive strategies of the genre. 

Contemporary Chinese artists have continued the tradition of pictorial storytelling with an expanded range of subject matter and approach. Qiu Anxiong uses narrative to reflect on the creative process or to critique modern technology and environmental policies.

Inspired by the Classic of Mountainsand Seas (Shanhai jing), an ancient encyclopaedia that describes a myriad of mostly mythical creatures,places and customs, Qiu embarked on a provocative modern version of it around 2004 that simulateda traditional illustrated woodblock-printed book(Hasegawa 2008). Presenting modern machines,weapons and even medical advancements as imaginary beasts, he offers an intelligent critique of contemporary technology and culture in the guise of an ancient text that awaits multiple interpretations.