[Co-sponsored with RAVE] Alan Longino, “Return to Character: Morita Shiryu and Work of the 1960s “

This Wednesday, October 25 at 4:45 PM, the RAVE and VMPEA workshops together will be hosting their first collaboration of the year in Room 152 of the Cochrane Woods Art Center (the Home of Art History).

The presenter will be Alan Longino (Ph.D. student, Art History) discussing the work of the calligrapher Morita Shiryu (b. 1912, d. 1998).

Presenting his working paper, Return to Character: Morita Shiryu and Work of the 1960s 

The session’s respondent will be Cole Gruber (Ph.D. student, Art History).

For attendees on ZOOM, please register at the link below and use the password given. https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0rc-2oqz0oHtSbsPEbL0xMxL4b1ahKArQ4#/registration

Password: 000000

We look forward to seeing many a visage there, and look forward to hosting you for more RAVE & VMPEA collaborations throughout the year.

 

Abstract

The work and practice of Morita Shiryu—one of the founders of Bokujinkai, editor of the group’s long-running journal, Bokubi, and pioneering philosopher on avant-garde calligraphy—is difficult to pin-down. One of Shiryu’s primary goals was to elevate calligraphy to the level of abstract art being practiced in his time, such as Abstract Expressionism in New York of Art Informel in Paris. This paper looks at a critical point in the history of the artist’s work—the late 1950s to early 1960s—when his style and beliefs around calligraphy slowly turned away from the desire for abstraction and back to the formation of character-based writing. The field of research around his work at this time ties this shift to a growing dissatisfaction with artists in the West, and the limited understanding of Zen philosophies embedded in the work of calligraphy. However, while the stylistic shift in the work is apparent at this time, I argue that due to the philosophies and materials utilized and developed by Shiryu in the 1950s the work became even more progressively avant-garde, and that by developing new compound mixtures with which to paint, he was not only able to tackle even larger format works—such as multi-paneled screens—but that he was able to draw out the temporal qualities of language across these large-scale works. In this effort, he was able to imbue new dimensions into calligraphy, and by doing so achieved an abstraction of characters and language that was even more pronounced than in previous work.

Bio

Alan Longino is a Ph.D. student focusing on postwar Japanese conceptual art and global contemporary art. His research considers the artist Yutaka Matsuzawa (b. 1922 – d. 2006, Shimo Suwa) and the artist’s approach to a dematerialized practice that was hinged upon a system of quantum physics, non-Zen Buddhism, and para-psychology. In 1988, Matsuzawa published his Quantum Art Manifesto, which set out directions, instructions, kōans, and other meditations for the reader to consider their connection to art on a quantum level. This manifesto was the culmination of the artist’s decades-long practice that focused on making the “invisible, invisible” (Tomii, 2016), and is the central focus of his dissertation.  In addition to his research on Matsuzawa, he has also produced shows on the artist’s work at Yale Union (Portland, OR, 2019), and Empty Gallery (Hong Kong, 2021) in collaboration with the independent art historian and curator, Reiko Tomii.

Taylor Chisato Stewart, “Shibata Zeshin & The Construction of Kogei”

The workshop for Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia is thrilled to jump into this calendar year, as we have a number of great presentations both from students & faculty within the university and from visiting speakers.
Starting this year off, Wednesday, October 11, is the Art History Department’s own, Taylor Chisato Stewart.
She will be presenting on Shibata Zeshin And The Construction of Kōgei.
The workshop will be held in Room 152 of the Cochrane Woods Art Center, from 4:45 to 6:45 PM CT.
Shibata Zeshin, Three Men Looking at Framed Lacquer Drawing (Edo, c. 1850)
Album leaf; lacquer on gold paper
4 3/4 x 3 1/2 in.
Abstract:
When he was born, Shibata Zeshin’s (1807–1891) native Tokyo was still called Edo. Trained in both painting and the laborious process of making lacquered objects, he came to invent several cutting-edge techniques in the lacquer medium, including a method of painting the viscous material—famously difficult to manipulate, even on three-dimensional surfaces—on paper while still maintaining its structural integrity. Despite the flurry of scholarship and museum activity that has surrounded Zeshin’s work for over a century, and that most of his extant works were created in the Meiji period (1868–1912), he is often relegated to a retrospective role in the vein of “the last true Edo-period craftsman.” A large amount of the Zeshin scholarship is concerned with his technical innovations in lacquer and his relationship with the Shijō school of painting. The referential and self-reflexive, perhaps modernist, streak that permeates his practice goes relatively understated.
I will examine a selection of Zeshin’s works, mainly lacquer objects, in relation to the conceptual (and linguistic) changes enacted by Japan’s imperial government concerning the category of “craft.” Uprooting previous notions of the status of and separation between mediums like painting, sculpture, and craft, the Meiji government created the word kōgei—a sort of portmanteau of the characters for “craftsmanship” and “art”—in its project to promote Japanese arts to an international audience. I argue that, far from being a lingering traditionalist, Zeshin often addressed such changes to his profession through clever visual and material play. I will also consider the word sōshoku, loosely meaning “decoration.” Sōshoku was an archaic compound that the new government adopted in response to foreign commerce. I believe that much of the self-reflexive quality of Zeshin’s work can be attributed to his interactions with these new, and volatile, concepts of craft and decorative art.
Bio
Taylor Chisato Stewart is a Ph.D. student studying art history at the University of Chicago. Her primary area of research is modern Japanese painting and decorative arts (early Meiji period). She is interested in issues of stylistic hybridity, Japanese exported self-identities and art extremities. She received her BA in English and art history at Vassar College, where she wrote her undergraduate thesis on the nihonga painter Kano Hōgai and eccentricity as a framework for artistic identity. Outside of her studies, her writing has appeared in Orientations. She also served as an assistant to contemporary artist Rirkrit Tiravanija in his capacity as art director of Okayama Art Summit 2022.

VMPEA Fall 2023 Schedule

The Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia (VMPEA) workshop is pleased to announce the Fall 2023 schedule. All the in-person events will meet on selected Wednesdays from 4:45 to 6:45 pm CT at CWAC (Cochrane-Woods Art Center) 152 unless otherwise noted. For those who would like to join us remotely for the in-person events, we will send out the registration link prior to these events. You are welcome to consult the VMPEA website for further information about these events, and please subscribe to our listserv to receive event notifications.

Fall 2023 Schedule

October 11

Taylor Chisato Stewart, PhD Student, Art History, UChicago

“Shibata Zeshin and the Construction of Kōgei”

October 25

Alan Longino, PhD Student, Art History, UChicago

“Return to Character: Morita Shiryu and Work of the 1960s”

November 8

Paul Copp, Associate Professor in Chinese Religion and Thought, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, UChicago

“Deity Seals in the Securing of the Dead (First Centuries CE)”

Discussant: Zhenru Zhou, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University

November 17

Lisha He, Visiting PhD Candidate, UChicago

“An Exploration of Emperor Qianlong’s Practice with Glass Mirrors”

[*Please note the special date of the event. We will follow up with more updates on the exact location for this event.]

November 29

Sijia Huo, Visiting PhD Candidate, UChicago

“The Materiality and Spatial Context of the Tiantang Colossal Buddha Statue in Luoyang in the Late 7th Century”

Discussant: TBD

Please feel free to contact Yan (yanj@uchicago.edu) and Alan (longino@uchicago.edu) with any questions you might have, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

All Best,

Yan & Alan

Susan Huang, “The Fodingxin Dharani Scripture and its Audience”

We are delighted to announce that in addition to the Smart Lecture, Professor Shih-shan Susan Huang will be at the VMPEA workshop on May 12 (Friday) from 4:45–6:45pm CT at CWAC 152 to discuss an article derived from her latest book project. We also invite you to come and ask any remaining questions you may have after the Smart Lecture.

 

Shih-shan Susan Huang

Associate Professor of Transnational Asian Studies, Rice University

Who will be presenting and discussing the paper

“The Fodingxin Dharani Scripture and its Audience: Healing, Talisman Culture, and Women in Popular Buddhist Print Culture”

Friday, May 12, 2023

4:45–6:45 pm CT, CWAC 152

*A light reception will follow at the department lounge.

 

Fodingxin Dharani Scripture. 1102 CE. Northern Song. National Library, Beijing.

 

Abstract

This study examines the book art contained within the Fodingxin Dharani Scripture (Fodingxin tuoluoni jing 佛頂心陀羅尼經; hereafter also called the dharani text), with the broader concerns of how popular Buddhist print culture addresses healing, talisman culture, and women. The primary sources it investigates include a ninth-to-tenth century Dunhuang manuscript and other illustrated printed counterparts dated from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. The Fodingxin Dharani Scripture, an indigenous Chinese Buddhist text traceable to medieval Dunhuang manuscript culture, synthesizes miscellaneous beliefs, turning a Buddhist scripture into a form of magical medicine. The twelfth century marks fresh illustrative and talismanic traditions in the print age. The printed text is accompanied by a frontispiece at the beginning, and three talismanic scripts at the end. The book art of the Fodingxin Dharani Scripture reached its peak in the first half of the fifteenth century. In addition to the frontispiece and talismanic scripts, the text is fully illustrated throughout, with its new illustrated repertoire highlighting the healing power of the scripture and the dharani charms, as well as the challenges women faced in childbirth. Numerous extant specimens offer valuable documentations of its donors, most of whom were residents in Ming (1368–1644) Beijing. Accompanied by lively narrative pictures and containing Daoist-inspired talismanic writs that promise to save women from birth complications, it was often printed on demand. Women and their families, preoccupied with childbirth complications or ardently desiring a baby boy, were its main donors.

 

Shih-shan Susan Huang (PhD, History of Art, Yale) is an Associate Professor at Rice University’s newly-founded Department of Transnational Asian Studies. Her book, Picturing the True Form: Daoist Visual Culture in Traditional China (Harvard Asian Center, 2012), translated into Chinese by Dr. Zhu Yiwen, was published by Zhejiang University Press in 2022. She co-edited Visual and Material Cultures of the Middle Period China with Patricia Ebrey (Brill, 2017). Her recent articles explore Song-to-Ming book art of the Lotus Sutra and Diamond Sutra, Buddhist printing under Tangut Xi Xia rule, and painting and printing connections. Huang’s new monograph, The Dynamic Spread of Buddhist Print Culture: Mapping Buddhist Book Roads in China and its Neighbors, forthcoming in the Brill series Crossroads – History of Interaction across the Silk Routes, examines printed images and texts as objects “on the move”, as they were transmitted along networks and book roads in a transnational context. For more information, visit https://shihshansusanhuang.com/

Alice Casalini, “The Malleable Space of Gandhāran Art”

We cordially invite you to join us next Wednesday, May 10, from 4:45-6:45 pm CT for a VMPEA & RAVE joint workshop, featuring:

 

Alice Casalini

PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Who will be presenting the paper

“The Malleable Space of Gandhāran Art”

Discussant: Andrew Ollett

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, UChicago

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

4:45–6:45 pm CT, CWAC 152

*You can also use this link to join the talk on Zoom. No registration is required. The password is “malleable”.

A light reception will follow at the department lounge.

 

“Three architectural elements from Gandhāra,” digital collage, 2023.

 

Abstract

The monasteries of Gandhāra were teeming with an incredible array of images that adorned virtually every available surface. From carved panels that covered the walls, to icons and stelae that were installed in chapels and encroached the space of corridors and passageways, every monument was adorned with stone and stucco reliefs, while statues were meticulously gilded and painted. These objects, along with the perishable materials that did not survive in the archaeological record, came together to create an aesthetic of visual abundance.

The talk seeks to explore the role of this aesthetic in the context of the early Buddhist schools of Gandhāra. While textual sources are often used to shed light on these debates, the visual program in the monasteries  played a significant role in shaping the Buddhist path to liberation in its own right and in a parallel fashion to the textual sources.

 

Alice Casalini received her BA and MA in Languages and Civilizations of Asia and Mediterranean Africa from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and studied Buddhist archaeology at the School of Archaeology and Museology of Peking University. She has conducted archaeological work in Italy, China, and Pakistan. Her research focuses on early Buddhist art and architecture of Northern India, Central Asia and Western China. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Paradigms of Beholding: the architecture of religious experience in Gandhāra,” explores the ways in which sacred spaces and religious objects create avenues for spiritual transformation. Alice is also a visual artist and illustrator.

 

Andrew Ollett is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. He studies the literary and intellectual traditions of South Asia, including works composed in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsha, and Kannada, mostly falling within the first millennium of the common era. His research has focused on the “question of language”: the availability and choice of certain languages for certain purposes, and the role of language in cultural production and change.  He is the author of Language of the Snakes: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India (2017). His current projects include an edition and translation of the Prakrit romance Lilavai a book on the beginnings of manuscript literacy in South Asia, a book on context-dependency in South Asian philosophies of language and, with Sarah Pierce Taylor, an edition and translation of The Way of the Poet-King, a ninth-century manual of poetics in Kannada.

Eugene Wang, “What is psychocosmic painting and how it came into being?”

We are pleased to invite you to a special VMPEA lecture next Monday, May 8, at 4:45 pm CT presented by Professor Eugene Wang from Harvard University. In his talk, Professor Wang will delve into the fascinating concept of psychocosmic painting and its origins in the work of the Taiwan-based Chinese artist Liu Guosong. This event is followed by a reception at the CWAC lounge.

Eugene Wang

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art, Harvard University

Presenting:

“What is psychocosmic painting and how it came into being?”

4:45-6:45 pm CT, May 8, 2023

Cochrane Woods Art Center, 152

Please use this link if you plan to join this event virtually. No registration is required. Password: “eclipse”

*Reception to follow in Cochrane Woods Art Center lounge

Liu Guosong. Eclipse, 1971. Detail. Private Collection, Hong Kong. Photo by Eugene Wang.

 

Abstract 

History of art often comes down to the perennial struggle to conceive terms to capture new art forms and experiences. In the 1960s, the Taiwan-based Chinese artist Liu Guosong (1932-) produced a type of sublime paintings never seen in the history of Chinese art. No readymade term applies. He called it “abstract painting.” The term stuck. Over time, it also shows its strains, as it hardly captures the scope of his evolving long career, nor his prodigious output, ranging from astral bodies to planetary earth. Six decades later, we still search for a proper descriptive language to come to terms with his paintings. In hindsight, “psychocosmic painting” may be closer to capturing the dynamics of his oeuvre, alternatively called “metaphysical painting.” Its central impulse is to integrate mind and cosmos through the medium of painting. How so? Why him? Professor Wang’s lecture will unpack these questions.

 

Eugene Y. Wang is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art at Harvard University. He holds positions in History of Art and Architecture, Archaeology, Study of Religion, Theater, Dance, and Medium, and Inner Asia and Altaic Studies. A Guggenheim Fellow (2005), he is the art history editor of the Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004). His extensive publications range from early Chinese art and archeology to modern and contemporary Chinese art and cinema. His book, Shaping the Lotus Sutra: Buddhist Visual Culture in Medieval China (2005), explores Buddhist worldmaking; it received the Sakamoto Nichijin Academic Award from Japan. His current research focuses on cognitive study of art and mind. He is also the founding director of Harvard CAMLab that explores expanded scenography through digital media.

Yun-chen Lu, “A Left-Turn to Artistic Eccentricity: Gao Fenghan (1683–1749) and Disability Art in Eighteenth-century Yangzhou”

Please join us on Wednesday, May 3, from 4:45-6:45 pm CT at CWAC 152 for the fifth VMPEA Workshop this Spring, featuring:

 

Yun-chen Lu

Assistant Professor, Department of History of Art and Architecture, DePaul University

Who will be presenting:

“A Left-Turn to Artistic Eccentricity: Gao Fenghan (1683–1749) and Disability Art in Eighteenth-century Yangzhou”

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

4:45-6:45 pm CT

*Please use this link if you plan to join virtually. No registration is required. Password: “left.”

Gao Fenghan and Li Tianbiao, the first leaf of the Album of Painting and Calligraphy in Collaboration with Li Tianbiao, 1737. Album leaves mounted as a handscroll, ink on paper. Each leaf 31.5 × 35.4 cm. Chien-lu Collection.

 

Abstract

This talk focuses on Gao Fenghan (1683–1749) and the development of his disability art and aesthetics in premodern China. Scholars have categorized Gao as one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, a group of artists who were active in southern China during the early Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) and gained renown for rejecting the Beijing court’s orthodox painting style in favor of their own aesthetic choices. Among these artists, Gao earned fame because of his left-handed style, which he developed after the paralysis of his right hand. I argue that this disability enabled him to move beyond his early practice in the dominant literati style and generate his own artistic idiosyncrasy, which was popular in the Yangzhou art market that favored nontraditional art. While scholarly discussion of disability in art history has focused on the evolution of modern aesthetics in Euro-American art, my project focuses on disability art in premodern China, not only challenging the dating of disability art studies but also expanding its geographical scope. More specifically, my research offers a new understanding of disability aesthetics rooted in Chinese culture, history, and philosophy.

 

Yun-chen Lu (Ph.D., UCSB) is an Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture at DePaul University. She specializes in East Asian art history, particularly Chinese painting and calligraphy, material culture, literati culture, artists with disabilities, disability aesthetics, and East Asian interregional art history. She teaches courses on Asian art history, Chinese art history, and Buddhist art history. Her current research project investigates the relationship between artists with disabilities and the trend of artistic eccentricity in eighteenth-century Yangzhou, and the development of disability art and aesthetics in Chinese art.

Wu Hung, “Outdoor Exhibitions in Beijing, 1979”

Professor Wu Hung will be at the VMPEA & APEA joint workshop on April 28th (Friday) from 4pm-6pm CT at CWAC 152 to share his latest research titled “Outdoor Exhibitions in Beijing, 1979,” and Professor Paola Iovene will offer a response. Please note that there is a pre-circulated paper for this workshop, available here under the password “outdoor.” If you would like to join us for the reception from 6pm-8pm CT, please kindly RSVP by April 25 (Tuesday).

 

Wu Hung

presenting:

“Outdoor Exhibitions in Beijing, 1979,”

with a response from Paola Iovene

 

April 28th (Friday), 4pm-6pm CT, 2023

Cochrane-Woods Art Center, 152

*This workshop will be livestreamed on Zoom, please use this link if you plan to attend virtually. No registration is required. Pw: outdoor.

An outdoor art exhibition in Beijing, 1979.

 

Abstract

In most writing about contemporary Chinese art, the primary significance of the Stars Art Exhibition (1979) is believed to lie in its choice of venue: held in the small street park outside of the National Art Gallery of China, it moved the site of art exhibition from indoors to outdoors and from museums to public space, displaying works of young “outsider” artists to street crowds. This emphasis on location is undoubtedly correct, but because many studies discuss this exhibition as a singular event, they ignore its relationship to other artistic activities at the time. As a result, the interpretation is frequently skewed, either overemphasizing its uniqueness or overlooking its specificity. An important artistic phenomenon in Beijing in 1979 was the occurrence of multiple outdoor art exhibitions, which have not yet received sufficient scholarly attention. This study attempts to assemble the available materials to provide a general introduction to these exhibitions, to reflect on their shared historical context and characteristics, and to reexamine the Stars Art Exhibition within this context.

 

Wu Hung holds the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professorship at the Department of Art History and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, and is also the director of the Center for the Art of East Asia at the same university. An elected member of the American Academy of Art and Science and the American Philosophic Society, he sits on multiple domestic and international committees. He has received many awards for his publications and academic services, including the Distinguished Teaching Award (2008) and Distinguished Scholar Award (2018) from the College of Art Association (CAA), an Honorary Degree in Arts from Harvard University (2019), and the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art from CAA (2022). Wu Hung’s research interests include both traditional and contemporary Chinese art, and he has published many books and curated many exhibitions in these two fields. His interdisciplinary interest has led him to experiment with different ways to tell stories about Chinese art, as exemplified by his Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (1995), The Double Screen: Medium and Representation of Chinese Pictorial Art (1996), Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square: the Creation of a Political Space (2005), The Art of the Yellow Springs: Understanding Chinese Tombs (2010), A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture (2012), Zooming In: Histories of Photography in China (2016), and Space in Art History (2018). His three newest books from 2022 and 2023 include Chinese and Dynastic time (Princeton University Press), Spatial Dunhuang: Experiencing the Mogao Caves (Washington University Press), and The Full Length Mirror: A Global Visual History (Reaktion Books).

 

Paola Iovene is an associate professor of modern Chinese literature in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Tales of Futures Past: Anticipation and the Ends of Literature in Contemporary China (2014) and the editor of Cultures of Labor in Contemporary China (Special issue of positions: asia critique, May 2023).