Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chinese Scrolls at the British Museum

It's been a largely culture-free summer so far.  I felt starved.  I went to the British Library to renew my membership and expand my mind.  It went well but I had a couple of hours before my train home.  So I wandered off.  I wondered if I could make it to the British Museum.  I have problems walking distances, any distance at all, really.  But I headed off, took my time and lots of breaks, and made it by about five.  I had no plans but as I went in the rear entrance I saw there was an exhibition of prints by Georg Baselitz and his contemporaries.  That's his drawing above, 'A New Type' (1965).  Baselitz was an East German for the first half of his career and the divided nation is reflected in his work.  I especially liked the dead or dying eagle woodcut and his oddly charming images of monsters.  There's a deformed duck that beguiles.

Then I saw, in the next gallery, Chinese scrolls.  I've been watching Andrew Graham Dixon's Art of China on BBC4.  This is exactly what I needed.  Talk about serendipity! 

In the main room there were some very fine scrolls indeed.  I especially enjoyed the one of a scholar moving house.  The comedy the artist manages to include in the expressions of his overloaded servants tickled me greatly.

But then, in the annex where they sometimes keep the precious 3rd century Atonement Scroll (and always now have a digital version you can look at) I found an image of bamboo against the moon which I'm sure was in the Dixon series (or one very much like it).  The way in which the artist, with a single flick of his brush, managed to show exactly how gentle the breeze ruffling the leaves was - superb.  I left somewhat restored.