Cloud Wanderings of Wang Mansheng on View

The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden is hosting a new exhibition of paintings and calligraphy in the Chinese tradition by Wang Mansheng that explore the spirit of the natural world and venture into contemporary meaning. Divided into three parts, the Cloud Wanderings show includes landscape paintings and calligraphy in Guild Hall, colorful paint-ings of lotus in the Hays Gallery, and a selection of album paintings and artist’s tools in the central Goelet Gallery. The exhibit is on view until August 13.


Several programs will accompany the exhibition including Saturday, June 11 from 1-4pm, Artist’s Talk and reception, open to the public.  On Saturday, July 9, Chinese Calligraphy Demonstration with Wang Mansheng and Saturday, August 6, 2-3:30pm, Yunyou Writing Workshop, limit 10 people.


The Chinese painting tradition spans three thousand years and is the visual component of one of the world’s oldest and richest cultures.  Throughout history, Chinese paintings have transmitted the spirit of the landscape, expressed what was understood as human civility and virtue, and captured the transitory but magnificent beauty of nature.  China’s visual arts, particularly paintings and calligraphy, have always been intimately intertwined with the country’s sophisticated literary, philosophical, social, and historical traditions.


As Chinese painting continues to evolve in response to contemporary realities, few are better able to forge this path of development than Wang Mansheng.  Steeped deeply and broadly in China’s classical arts, Mansheng is also a global citizen fully engaged in today’s world.  His paintings at once speak to the concerns and sensibilities of viewers now, throughout the world, and are inspired by China’s vibrant past.


This exhibition juxtaposes the traditional and contemporary in multiple ways.  In pre-modern times, the concept of “cloud travel” (yunyou in Mandarin Chinese) was largely asso-ciated with the wanderings of sages and immortals.  In this way, yunyou paintings embodied notions of spirituality and aimlessness and were connected with Daoism, Buddhism, and folk beliefs.  Drawing on the contemporary use of the word “cloud” for online data storage, the term yunyou has now taken on a new connotation of travel through the internet.  In this exhibition, Wang Mansheng explores both meanings of yunyou and thereby, creates a dynamic and timely bridge between China’s past and our own day.


Wang Mansheng was born in Taiyuan in 1962 and started studying traditional painting and calligraphy, largely independently, from a young age.  After attaining a degree in Chinese classics from Fudan University in Shanghai, he directed and produced documentary pro-grams at China Central Television. Wang moved to Dobbs Ferry in 1996 and turned his fo-cus to calligraphy and painting. His influences include traditional Chinese literati art, Bud-dhist art, and, more recently, the Hudson Valley. He uses non-traditional materials such as reeds from the Hudson River and homemade ink made from black walnuts. The artist’s works have been exhibited in China in Beijing, Shanghai and Shanxi province, as well as in the United States, including at the Brooklyn Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Huntington Art Museum, and Connecticut College.


The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden in North Salem was founded in 1957 by Natalie Hays Hammond (1904-1985) as a place where Eastern and Western cultures could be appreciated and visitors could enjoy the beauty of nature.  The Hammond consists of an art museum that presents a changing roster of exhibitions, as well as offering educational pro-grams and classes.  The highlight of the Hammond is the Japanese Stroll Garden, which oc-cupies 3 ½ acres, is centered around its pond, and includes numerous rare Japanese plants and trees, as well as species native to Westchester.  Also on the grounds is a traditional Jap-anese tea room, which was imported from Kyoto and is used for tea ceremony events. The Hammond is open to the public from April to November.


For more information about this exhibition and the Hammond Museum, consult the web-site