West Lake in All Its Glory: A Thousand Years of Woodblock Printing
Why We Recommend it
HKU University Museum’s West Lake Panorama exhibition features the awe-inspiring scenery of Hangzhou’s West Lake area as immortalised in ancient and contemporary woodblock prints.
West Lake has served as the wellspring of inspiration for painters, poets, musicians and printers since at least the Ming Dynasty (618–907 CE). Between the 9th and 12th centuries a series of artificial features—including causeways, islands and pagodas—were added to the area. Based on these physical ‘improvements’, West Lake has been celebrated as a canonical example of garden design and the symbiotic fusion of man and nature, as well as a physical embodiment of the Buddhist ideal of peacefulness.
Co-curated by the Zhejiang Art Museum and University Museum and Art Gallery of the University of Hong Kong, West Lake Panorama: A Millennium of Woodblock Painting celebrates the ancient Chinese art of woodblock printing through an extensive exhibition.
Literally known as ‘water-printing’ (水印), woodblock printing is an art technique that was developed around Hangzhou’s West Lake area a thousand years ago. The technique involves working with water-soluble colours and wooden blocks to allow for complex forms of overprinting in order to reproduce a nearly infinite range of colours. Artists working in and around Hangzhou are renowned for their ability to combine traditional forms of woodcut printing with more modern colour palettes and abstract figures.
The exhibition showcases contemporary ink landscapes from the mid-1980s to the present day, Ming and Qing dynasty woodblock editions, as well as prints featuring hybrid landscape constructions that fuse European techniques, such as etching, with a definitively Chinese sense of style.
Image: Evening Bells in the Distance, Lu Fang, 1990. Colour Water Print.