“Elevations” Exhibition Proposal

China, 2019

The exhibition ELEVATIONS investigates the Chinese people’s relationship with urban spaces, their connection with their rural past, and the effects that rapid development has had upon their spiritual and emotional well being. The exhibition brings together the works of two visual artists, Bill Claps (USA) and Corrado Sassi (Italy), who have recently spent time working in China.

Bill Claps’ mixed media artworks combine photography, painting and printmaking to create contemporary interpretations of nature motifs inspired by classical Chinese landscape painting. His works evoke a sense of the brush strokes, musicality and spiritual content of Chinese calligraphy, together with the spiritual evocation of Chinese landscape painting. Taoist and Buddhist sentiments are evoked through his unique visual language, which invites the viewer to perceive the beauty of invisible spaces.

Corrado Sassi’s works deal with the effects of cityscapes and the built environment on people’s spiritual being. He embroiders words and poetry that expresses people’s feelings about modernization onto images of skyscrapers, using colored threads that link the architecture to the words and ideograms. For Sassi, skyscrapers are the most dramatic architectural expression facing people today, and they symbolize the rapid development happening in China, which he feels has greatly affected the core existence of the people there. Says Sassi, “People have really lost contact with nature and their roots. There are people who are coming to the cities to watch the skyscrapers, much like people in the past went to visit the mountains, like the Yellow Mountains, which to me feel like skyscrapers made by nature, so I think there’s a lot of the same nostalgic feeling.”

There’s a long history in China of poetry that deals with nostalgia for the homeland. Sassi saw a link between this classical poetry and the emotional disconnection of the people today in China’s cities. His artworks feature this ancient poetry embroidered directly on the facades of the skyscrapers. For Claps, the link between past and present is articulated by his use of contemporary materials and methods, including photography and new printmaking techniques he has developed, to express the spirit and essence of the past. Skyscrapers are modern day mountains, and cityscapes are the surreal versions of the mountainous landscapes of the past.

The exhibition ELEVATIONS will combine works from both artists to highlight relationships between nature and the built environment, creating a space where viewers can reflect upon their place in our rapidly industrializing modern world.