Artwork

Qiu Zhijie
Calligraphy of Written Backward: Sand of Silk-washing Stream by Su Shi, 2008

  • Ink on paper, video
  • Paper scroll: 97 x 108 cm, video: 8:29 min
  • Acquired in 2014

The Chinese concept artist, author and curator Qiu Zhijie acquired the ability to write calligraphy backwards autodidactically (that is, by teaching himself) and applied this to the artwork Calligraphy of Written Backward: Sand of Silk-washing Stream by Su Shi, 2008, which has been acquired for the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection. The video shows the artist tracing the calligraphy of the poem Sand of Silk-washing Stream by the Chinese poet, painter, calligrapher and politician Su Shi (1037–1101) on paper. Su Shi lived a long period of political exile due to his criticism – partly in terms of poems – on Wang Anshi’s reforms during the Song Dynasty. As the video is played backwards, Qiu creates the impression that the black lines of calligraphy on the paper are being erased, stroke by stroke, by the brush, however, the ink continues to be visible on the paper.  In this artwork, the artist brings together a multiplicity of themes relating to art and to art history: the juxtaposition of centuries‑old processes with contemporary techniques, masterly craftsmanship and the application of new technology, the perfected artwork form and the processual quality of artistic work.

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