Alternative Dreams: longing for 17th Century China

img_0393One of the few things that I have always kept in mind about Chinese history, is its turbulence. It has had a plethora of both extreme beauty, and pernicious violence that over the centuries has resulted in some of the most striking art that can be seen today.

In sharp contract from the Del Toro exhibition, Alternative Dreams: 17th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Tsao Family Collection will not leave you with strange dreams and nightmares of the bizarre. Instead, is presents an alternative- a peaceful, and soothing feast for the eyes that can renew anyone’s appreciation for the mark of a skillfully wielded brush.

Alternative Dreams was organized by the LACMA with the assistance of the Mozhai Foundation, which is a non-profit institution focused on broadening the public’s general knowledge about Chinese art. The foundation was created by the family Jung Ying Tsao (1929-2011), a collector of Chinese Art. The art in this exhibition was from the collection that he amassed through his lifetime, which I can personally say is nothing short of stunning.

This is no display of a few simple scrolls in cases and hanging on walls. I decided to take a look at the exhibition because I often am surprised at my interest in Chinese Art, and I was not disappointed at all. The beautiful simplicity of the exhibition allowed for the complex art to be seen in its full glory with no distraction.img_0389

The introductory panel was explanative, and provided a general overview that allowed visitors to freely walk through the exhibition and view the art unencumbered by the need to meticulously read text in order to understand the context of the exhibition. The exhibition was organized by period, school, and region of origin allowing newcomers to easily identify the works.

img_0404The layout provided plenty of room to wander, and not feel crowded in with people or cases. The rooms were fairly dark, I can only assume to cut down on light damage to the scrolls. Having said that, the track lighting was adjusted to perfection, and even was utilized as a subtle way to draw more attention to main pieces within groupings. Like the works of art themselves, this installation was a practice in subtlety.

The art itself is soothing, and as you walk through the exhibit is begins to blend together, creating this misty and rolling landscape within your mind of 17th century China, as if you were a kite flying over in the wind. My favorite grouping were from the monks done of birds and flowers. After visiting this exhibition, I so desperately wanted to jump on a plane and head straight for the Chinese country side, to see what had inspired these artists to create such pieces. If you want to see more photos, see the slideshow below.

Alternative Dreams will be on view at the LACMA now through December 4th, and is included in the price of a general admission ticket. Stop in!

Peace and long life.

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