Eight handscrolls from Michael Cherney’s Ten Thousand Li of the Yangzi River series are on view at the Shandong Art Museum as part of the First Jinan International Biennial. This biennial lasts from December 13, 2020 to March 12, 2021. Entitled “Power of Harmony”, it presents 596 pieces of artworks from 132 artists.
The Ten Thousand Li of the Yangzi River series, created between 2010 and 2017, includes forty-two photographs in the handscroll format. These photographs, portraying contemporary river scenes in China, were inspired by pre-modern paintings of the Yangzi River, especially one handscroll by an anonymous Song dynasty painter kept at the Freer Gallery of Art. Based on these ancient artworks, Cherney selected certain locations and shot the photographs onsite, a process that lasted for five years. Before he went on his trips, Cherney often chose the finest shooting positions by using Google Earth and online maps. Then he spent two years selecting, editing, and printing the photographs. In one interview, Cherney described the series with the following words, “The theme of the Yangzi River allowed me explore the interrelationships between gongbi (a careful, realist technique in Chinese traditional painting) and xieyi (a genre of Chinese traditional painting based on freehand brushwork), between visual perception and mind image, as well as between precision and ambiguity.”
Ma Xiaodai and Michael Cherney. “局部、模糊、抽象：被重新定义的中国山水——秋麦访谈” [Detail, ambiguity, and abstraction: Chinese landscape painting redefined]. 澎湃The Paper. Published on December 3, 2018. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_2697887.
Michael Cherney. “Ten Thousand Li of the Yangzi River”. Artist website. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.qiumai.net/cjwlt/cjwlte.html.