A series of 6 digital videos
[Reference: Twelve Views of Water by Ma Yuan/马远水图］
Views of Water takes its historic starting point from works by Song Dynasty painter Ma Yuan (c1160-1225). Ma's studies of water, which are undated but likely to be made in the late 12th or early 13th century, concentrated on the qualities and properties of water in motion. The collection of these water studies held in Beijing's Palace Museum number twelve in total; delicate ink and wash paintings on silk, mounted together on a hand scroll.
Each work in Yang's contemporary rendition carefully recreates key aspects of these historic images in digital video, translating static bodies of water back into an active, animated state. The composition of each work connects closely to Ma's paintings, with features such as rolling fog, rocky outcrops and rippling waves speaking directly to the history of landscape painting in China. A 21st century perspective offers an alternative reading of Views of Water, however. At this time, perhaps more so than any other, water is becoming an issue of global concern both in terms of water security and sea level rise. Yang's subtly manipulated waterscapes are imbued with a feeling of disquiet or unrest, remaining at a distance from reality. It is this atmosphere that creates an intersection within the works: a cross roads between the artist's connection to history and his position within the contemporary moment.
Credit: Dunedin Public Art Gallery