Fri, Dec 28, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Art exhibition listings

By Sheryl Cheung  /  Contributing Writer

Exhibition view of Miniature Life Exhibition.

Photo Courtesy of Miniature Life

The National Palace Museum’s Expedition to Asia—The Prominent Exchanges between East and West in the 17th Century (亞洲探險記—十七世紀東西交流傳奇) features a selection of treasured artifacts, records and artworks that tell a rich tale of East and West exchange in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The show is a collaboration between seven local and international museums, drawing from the collections of the National Palace Museum, the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Umi-Mori Art Museum and the Museum of Oriental Ceramic, Osaka, Japan, the Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government, the National Taiwan University Library and the Graduate Institute of Art History of National Taiwan University. The 17th Century marks a time of great change in China; the Manchurians overthrew the Ming dynasty mid century to establish the Qing Dynasty, while Western merchants and missionaries continued to assert increasing influence in the country. The Dutchmen, in particular, “owned the crowning glory among all Western visitors that were trading with the East,” writes the museum. “They had not only delivered the knowledge and merchandise from Asia back to Europe, but also had become [its] crucial transporter.” The exhibition focuses on the Dutch envoys in China, records of their journeys and art objects that reflect exchange between the East and West.

■ National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院), 221 Zhishan Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市至善路二段221號), tel: (02) 2881-2021. Open daily from 8:30am to 6:30pm; closes at 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays

■ Until March 10

Books in the Palm of Your Hand (古人掌中書) is a curious show of ancient pocket-sized books from the collection of the National Palace Museum. The first records of miniature books in China date back to the Southern Qi Dynasty (479-502) . Known as kerchief-box editions (巾箱本), these publications were designed to fit in small portable chests that the literati used to store head kerchiefs and accessories. Such books were popular among the royalty who transcribed classic books of history, philosophy and literature into smaller editions for convenient storage and portability. By the Tang and Song dynasties, the invention of woodblock printing gave birth to the rise of publishing and book trade businesses that reproduced kerchief-box editions by greater number and wider scope. Aside from the standard literary classics, pocket size editions of poetry and lyrics, examination preparation materials, travel guides, novels and dramas and medical records were known to be printed as well. The show not only presents miniature books from the Ming and Qing dynasties, it also offers an overview of the craft involved in creating them. “[Visitors] will also gain insight into how bibliophiles in historical China were sentimentally attached to books in their daily lives and on their travels, as well as the delight they took in appreciating their book collections.”

■ National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院), 221 Zhishan Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市至善路二段221號), tel: (02) 2881-2021. Open daily from 8:30am to 6:30pm; closes at 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays

■ Until March 10

Austrian artist Isabella Kohlhuber creates drawings, installations, sculpture and animations out of text. She is interested in how language communicates meaning and how this meaning can be interpreted and understood by the reader. She considers language as “crystalline structures of meaning” and works with the alphabet as both pictures and texts. In her series Typograms, she “lay[s] letter-like shapes over each other, creating specific images rather than sentences, but still referring to words as their original idea,” says the artist. In her exhibition preface, Kolhlhuber mentions her background in painting, graphic design and typography, with which she engages with language. “I am especially interested in the details of letter shapes and in what allows us to decipher their meanings…even though there are so many forms of letters …within one culture,” says Kohlhuber.

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