Reset and Symbiosis
Liu Chunjie’s Print Exhibition
March 1, 2022
The restart of the world is likely to span the length of an era.
After the restart of the world, whether on the scale of one life or on the scale of history, we will realize what the profound changes are. We will forever look back on the previous period of rapid progress and comfortable life.
At this moment, symbiosis is essential. In an age of restarting and years that follow, symbiosis should be the core consensus to maintain and promote the world.
I have always wanted to make a big artwork, where I paste a room full of my woodcut prints on newspapers and use it as a way to return to my youth by revisiting the past. Decades ago, many urban and rural families pasted newspapers the the walls to do away with the old and bring in the new. They would stick them from left to right, top to bottom, all the way up to the ceiling. News, past events, pictures and patterns; Chinese, foreigners, politicians, scientists, ordinary people – images and text were everywhere. It was a kind of decoration in family homes from the 1970s to the early 1980s. At that time, I didn't understand what was in the newspaper, but it looked interesting and appealing. In fact it is what people today would call an art installation.
Maybe it's the lingering impression of my youth that makes me like old newspapers. There is a saying these days that today’s newspaper is tomorro’s toilet paper, but I disaggree. Once published, it cannot disappear. It will leave a mark forever. Impressions, stains, praise, criticism, records – they are all traces of the times, and my art is traces of my own private thoughts. In this way, I use the old newspaper in my artistic practice and the dislocation between the old and the new fits my metaphor.
The folding of time and the creases of paper are very unexpected and interesting. I don't avoid these naturally formed traces, and even think the unexpected changes in the picture caused by this are very beautiful. Tears, spots and imperfections are both beauty and the truth. They record the process of beauty changing into ugliness and ugliness changing into beauty.
In these old newspapers of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, unintentional historical events coincide with current news and historical figures.
Everything is overlapping, whether intentional or unintentional. Time is folded within these sheets. People often think that news and historical events will be discarded as old newspapers over time, and the old newspapers and magazines in various periods will lose their meaning. In fact, they are the remaining traces and may repeat, coincide or meet with recent events, including overlapping with irrelevant images calling for new combinations.
The old newspapers and show the social phenomena of different periods from a macro historical perspective, while the printed woodcut works represent my individual perspective, annotating the past and carving my own growth rings of the times. I cannot ignore the words and pictures in the old newspaper which inform my work on top of them. The newspapers carry the marks of time, but they are not a specific era. Separation and coming together conspire with one other to form a complex and new form of art.
As Yin Shuangxi puts it, ‘Liu Chunjie used newspapers as a foundation then printed on top of them to create meaning. Newspapers not only communicate the news, but also the details of daily life... The image of Lu Xun is then highlighted against such a background.
It has been my dream for many years, to have a room full of newspapers, a room full of woodcut prints, and a space for them to resonate. I like this work in which I can look in every direction, or sity down and read a little. Like a candy to a child, you don’t chew or swallow it but suck it slowly. Because this is life: past, present and future.
Has the world changed? Change in essence is difficult to change. Great changes and rapid changes are impossible. What I can do is change methods of the past and myself, not change my art.
Nanjing, March 1, 2021
President of Nanjing Academy of Calligraphy and Painting, Curator of Jinling Art Museum, executive chairman of Nanjing Artists Association, member of the Printmaking Committee of the China Artists Association, vice president of the International Printmaking Research Institute and visiting professors of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, visiting professor of Nanjing University of Arts and Nanjing Normal University, part-time tutor at the Academy of Fine Arts of Guizhou University, visiting professor of the School of Fine Arts and Design at Guizhou Normal University and Guiyang University, national first-class artist (grade 2 of senior high school), judge of the 13th National Art Exhibition and expert judge of the National Art Fund.
Liu Chunjie's works have been by collected by the British Museum, the British Library, the Ashmolian Museum of Oxford University, the Korean Association of modern printmakers, the Japan International printmaking Research Association, the International Art Museum of Machida City, Japan, the Kochi Prefecture and Paper Museum of Japan, the European Woodblock Foundation, the Terqin Museum, the University of Appalachia library, the Art Museum of China, the Art Museum of Shanghai, the Shanghai Library, the Art Museum of Jiangsu Province, the Art Museum of Guangdong Province Qingdao Art Museum, Shenzhen painting academy, Shenzhen Art Museum, Southwest University and other institutions.