By Anita Chung
Drawing upon the Cleveland Museum of Art’s world-renowned collection of Chinese paintings, this volume presents an insightful study of a museum acquired work acquired by the museum in 2012 that occasions prompts dialogue between traditional forms of art and contemporary environmental issues. Centered on a current and highly controversial venture that involves diverting water from the country’s Yangzi River, Ji Yun-fei’s (b. 1963) visually complex painting, Last Days of Village Wen, uses the traditional Chinese form of the scroll to convey a fictional narrative addressing real and palpable concerns. The contentious undertaking to divert water has resulted in mass human migration and destruction of ecosystems, spurring the artist to reflect on shifting values and to use painting as a vehicle for potential change. This book explores how Ji Yun-fei’s work situates itself within that tense tract between the old and the new, as he incorporates elements of both history and fantasy to highlight modern society’s increasing detachment from ancient notions of harmonious human/nature relationships.