Exhibitions/ Art Object

Primeval Chaos

Ren Jian (Chinese, born 1955)
Handscroll; ink on polyester
Image: 59 1/16 in. × 98 ft. 5 1/8 in. (150 × 3000 cm)
Credit Line:
Lent by Hong Kong Museum of Art, donated by Ms. Wong Ying-kay, Ada
Rights and Reproduction:
© Ren Jian
Not on view
Measuring nearly five feet tall and one hundred feet long when fully unrolled, Ren’s cosmic vision of an amorphous world follows the format and medium of traditional painting, but the scale, subject matter, and the industrial material on which it was painted owe nothing to earlier Chinese art forms. The scroll blends Eastern and Western imagery—cosmic spheroids and mandala-like drawings; swirling vortices and hovering clouds—in a succession of crescendos as it unrolls from left to right, a departure from the right-left orientation of traditional handscrolls. Further distancing the work from Chinese precedents is the use of Western-style chiaroscuro to describe the clouds, hills, and other landscape elements.
Sold by the artist to Mrs. Ying-kay Wong, a private collector, in 2000. Mrs. Ying-Kay Wong donated the painting to the Hong Kong Museum of Art in 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.