The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Eugene Wang, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art at Harvard University, as the 14th annual Heller Lecturer. This illustrated lecture, To Move Mountains: Old Script and New Practices in Contemporary Chinese Art addresses the complex relationships that tradition and history have within contemporary Chinese art. Presented alongside Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Contemporary Chinese Art, it builds on the current exhibition’s key themes, with a fulsome discussion about how tradition is transformed through personal experiences, politics and contemporary art practices.
A third-century Chinese fable has it that a ninety-year-old man resolved to move two mountains that stood in front of his house. For nearly 1,700 years this story of foolhardiness and determination fluctuated in and out of popularity until the twentieth century, which saw a renewed cultural interest in the old man’s spirit and drive to tackle the impossible. This ancient story has now turned into a new source for art making. If art is about “purposive purposelessness,” as philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed, the old man’s stubbornness indeed makes a good recipe for art and fuels many instances of modern and contemporary Chinese art practices. To Move Mountains, a lecture by Professor Eugene Wang, elaborates on how contemporary Chinese art engages with traditional though and explains why and how this happened.