Saturday, August 15, 2015

'Treasures of the Chinese Scholar's Studio' opens at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

A Gathering of Literati handscroll, ink and colours on silk attributed to Qiu Ying (1494? – 1552), but an exquisite 18th century copy Intended Gift of Robin Bassett.
Traditional Chinese culture highly values all things related to the scholar's studio -- where most of the nation's art and literature were created. To appreciate the scholar's studio up close, see the new exhibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Treasures of the Chinese Scholar's Studio opened August 14 and runs through November 15, 2015. 

According to AGGV's Asian Art curator Barry Till, Chinese scholars were the educated and privileged elite -- officials, academics, poets, calligraphers, painters and connoisseurs. "They were highly esteemed," said Till. "Their tastes and artwork had tremendous influence on their country's culture." 

The AGGV's collection of 200 treasures on display gives a glimpse into the life of a Chinese scholar. The exhibition includes pieces from the Shang dynasty (16 to 11 century BCE), to the later Ming dynasty (17 century ADE) and Qing dynasty (early 19 century ADE). It includes many recently donated pieces that have never been previously exhibited. Among the artifacts are the scholars' studio materials, antiques and works of art.

Till says that a Chinese scholar's studio would have been strewn with brushes, inkstones, paper, seals, paper weights, teapots, wine cups, incense burners and paper. "The most important were known as the four treasures, and they were the essentials: brush, ink, inkstone and paper," said Till.

The exhibition includes 20 important ancient inkstones recently donated to the AGGV. Inkstones are the stones used for the grinding and containment of ink. Because the stone affects the texture of the ink, a good inkstone is as important as good ink for serious calligraphers and painters.

Running in conjunction with the exhibition are a lecture and a tour, both included with Gallery admission or membership:

  • The Rocks, Stones and Seals: An Excursion into Daoist Aesthetics. September 9, 2PM. Dr. Jordan Paper highlights the relevance of sealstones, inkstones and rocks as they pertain to Daoist aesthetics upheld by Chinese scholars. 
  • Curator's Tour led by Barry Till. September 30, 2-3PM. 

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