August 1, 2013
LAN SU CHINESE GARDEN EXHIBITS WORK BY ARTISTS IAN BOYDEN AND WUON-GEAN HO
Ian Boyden and Wuon-Gean Ho
Aug 1 – Aug 31, 2013
Boyden and Ho respond to the garden from ecological, historical, cultural and psychological perspectives. Boyden's work draws from his experiences living and working in classical gardens in Suzhou, China, as well as his recognized expertise with Chinese inks. Ho's work is driven by her mastery of Japanese woodblock printing and her Chinese heritage, which both feed her narratives of identity and dreams.
The show occupies two rooms in the garden. In one, a dreamlike video installation by both artists contemplates self-identity in the context of the garden, and playfully hijacks the bystanding observers—the resident ornamental carp. In Boyden's video, carp kiss and devour his head: life-sized self-portraits cast out of fish food. In Ho's video, a mindscape sequence of self-portraits portrays a microcosm of the external world. Around both videos swim a school of Ho's relief prints of carp.
The second room features prints by Ho and paintings and an installation by Boyden. Ho's prints depict a love story set within a Chinese garden, where a man meets a mysterious woman not of this realm. The characters are inextricably entwined with the theatrical space of the garden, and the love story can be traced as a theme running through all her prints in the show. Boyden's installation is of two self-portrait heads made of concrete, engaged in a game of weiqi (go in Japanese). The scene is flanked by columns inscribed with calligraphy by Hua Rende, a cherished teacher of Boyden's and about whom Boyden wrote a book entitled Reflections on Forgotten Surfaces (2005).
Discussing the self-portrait installation, Boyden says, “Last year, as artist-in-residence at the Jia Yuan Garden in Suzhou, China, I submerged 15 self-portrait heads in one of the ponds. Each head dispensed fish food from the mouth, prompting the carp to put the finishing touches on the pieces. Over 14 months, the carp polished the mouths of the portraits until the pieces were declared complete.”
Ho and Boyden's work reflect an exploration of how we are informed by the vestiges of the past. Through both their work they create a parallel dream world that links us to our experience of the Chinese garden.
Ian Boyden's practice links the literary, material, and visual imagination. He has an abiding interest in East Asian aesthetics: he studied in China and Japan; received degrees in the History of Art from Wesleyan University and Yale University; and recently spent a year in China researching the history of carbon inks and designing an art gallery for one of Suzhou classical gardens. In 1998, Boyden founded Crab Quill Press, an imprint through which he has published several artist books. His work has been exhibited internationally including a solo exhibition at the Suzhou Museum in 2012, and is in public collections including Reed College, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Suzhou Museum. He is currently living in Otis, Oregon, where he is an artist-in-residence at Grass Mountain. You can learn more about him at his website: www.ianboyden.com
Wuon Gean Ho
Wuon-Gean Ho graduated in History of Art from Cambridge University, before taking up a Japanese Government Scholarship in 1998 to study traditional woodblock printmaking in Kyoto. She lives and works in London, UK, creating prints, artists' books and animations, and also participates regularly in international residencies: notably Caldera Arts Center, Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts and the Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology, all in the USA; the Bluecoat Arts Centre and Aberystwyth School of Art in the UK, and the castle of Montefiore Conca in Italy. She was awarded the John Purcell Paper prize in 2007; the Printmakers' Council prize in 2009; and the Birgit Skiöld Memorial Trust Award of Excellence in 2010, and her artist books are in the collection of the Tate Library and the National Art Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum. To learn more about Wuon-Gean, please visit her website www.wuongean.com or blog www.printplay.wordpress.com
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Located at 239 NW Everett Street, Lan Su Chinese Garden is one of Portland's greatest treasures. A tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, Lan Su is a powerfully inspiring experience that takes you through time, offering a window into Chinese culture, history and way of thinking. Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., daily admission is $9.50 with reduced rates for students, seniors & special family rate. Learn more at www.lansugarden.org. Phone: 503-229-8131
Sitka Center For Art and Ecology
Founded in 1970 on the Oregon coast, the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology offers summer creative workshops and winter residencies for artists, musicians and natural scientists. We invite people of all ages and abilities to take a class in the inspiring natural setting of Cascade Head and discover your core creative self in the process. Workshops are 1-5 days long. Learn more at www.sitkacenter.org. Phone: 541-994-5485
Sitka Center for Art & Ecology
56605 Sitka Drive, Otis OR 97368
Director of Marketing & Communications
Lan Su Chinese Garden
503.228.8131 ext. 1011
A selection of images from the exhibition: