November 18, 2010 - December 11, 2011
Bingyi, Cascade, Ink, household cleaners, and water on paper. Commissioned by the Smart Museum of Art. Courtesy the artist.
The Chinese-born artist Bingyi inaugurates the Threshold series with the specially commissioned Cascade, an enormous painting that fills the central wall in the Smart’s reception hall.
Taking over a basketball court in Xuli, a small village in China’s Anhui province, the artist created this beautiful, abstracted black-and-white landscape on massive panels of rice paper which were then shipped to Chicago and attached to the Smart's concave wall using wheat paste.
The work draws on the artist's deep knowledge of traditional Chinese landscape painting—Bingyi holds a PhD in art history—as well as contemporary painting techniques. Thought to be the largest rice paper ink painting ever made, it depicts the artist's inner vision of a giant waterfall flowing backward from earth to heaven.
The Threshold series brings a major installation of contemporary art to the Smart Museum’s reception hall and sculpture garden each year, ensuring that all visitors—whether they have come to the building for a class, an exhibition, or a cup of coffee—will instantly encounter new art.
On May 8, 2011, the Smart Museum, the Center for East Asian Studies, and the Confucius Institute presented Four Movements of Water, an avant-garde Chinese opera composed by Bingyi to illuminate her painting Cascade.
The concert united visual and musical expression, mixing flute and pipa (lute) music with free-style improvised chanting to evoke the movement of water from cascade to cloud. The concert was performed by Ding Xue'er (guzheng), Shao Tianshuai (vocalist), Wei Zidong (bamboo flute), Wang Yayu (pipa), and Wei Xing (vocalist) with lyrics and narrative composed by Bingyi.