UCCA DIRECTOR'S FOREWORD
Acclaimed ceramic sculptor and installation artist Liu Jianhua gets downto fundamentals with Screaming Walls , a large-scale ceramic installation designed to suit the unique dimensions of the UCCA Nave.
The 200-plus pieces of Jingdezhen kiln-fired black porcelain dripping down the walls like ink are as eye-catching as exclamation marks, as elegant as cursive calligraphy. They seem so inviting, beckoning us to read them,
but is this a language we can understand? Whether we choose to interpret them as graffiti or words, marks or stains, traces left by some previous occupant or simply evidence of rain, Liu Jianhua's walls have something to say to us, if only we listen closely.
- Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director
Since 2008, when I began to explore "meaningless" and "substanceless" as artistic concepts, I have deepened and refined these concepts in works such as the Untitled series (2008), Horizon (2009) and Traces (2011), now being exhibited at UCCA
under the title Screaming Walls . These works,produced within the context of China's rapid socioeconomic development, represent a process of experimentation and accumulated experience.The material I've used in Screaming Walls is porcelain, which has a long and fascinating history in China. Porcelain was invented in China, and it was China that introduced the art of porcelain to the rest of the world.
In my exhibition in the UCCA Nave, there is a strong interaction between the work and the exhibition space: the two long white walls are like vast sheets of paper, with kiln-fired pieces of gleaming black porcelain appearing to drip down the walls like ink. These magnified "ink stains"are like traces of the human mind, imprints of the human soul. When we leave the bustle of the real
world and enter this tranquil space, our conflicted psyches are soothed.
Screaming Walls applies a traditional aesthetic concept, established during the Tang Dynasty, known as Wu Lou Hen , or "Water Stains on the Wall." This refers to the highest state of aestheticdevelopment: finding inspiration in organic,naturally-evolved phenomena. In addition, I have incorporated black ink, which holds powerful artistic and aesthetic connotations in traditional Chinese culture, and is thought to represent all the colors of the spectrum.
Just as norms of human behavior vary with the individual, so is the trajectory of all things in the universe indeterminate and variable. Throughout history, human beings have constantly subverted the natural order, gotten caught up in a vicious
circle, been destined to repeat the same mistakes again and again. The laws of Nature and the traces left by Nature can have a powerful effect on the human mind, but they are so familiar that we tend to take them for granted. Screaming Walls is a work that seeks to place the viewer in a contradictory position, a perplexing space between illusion and reality.
- Liu Jianhua