Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art

Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art

A Game of Chess
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    Nie Ou (Chinese, b. 1948)
    A Game of Chess
    , 1992
    ink and color on paper
    Gift of Red Rock Studio, Hong Kong, A Williams Alumnus
    M.2007.20.7
    Photo by Jim Gipe-Pivot Media and Stephen Petegorsky

    Nie Ou (b. 1948, Shenyang) encountered Western art at an early age but initially avoided traditional Chinese art. She attended the Beijing Youth Palace, a preparatory school that incorporated Western art into the curriculum. In 1969, she was sent to a small farm in Datong as part of the Cultural Revolution agenda of re-educating urban youth. Based on her experiences in Datong, peasant life became a prominent subject in her work. Only after her return to Beijing did Nie express interest in learning Chinese painting techniques. Nie uses an abstract style to merge contemporary peasant figures with traditional ink techniques and landscape elements. One traditional motif that can be seen here is the chess game, which symbolized hermits beginning in the Northern Song period (960–1127) and reflected Confucian values.

    Translation of the calligraphy:

    The joy of coming across a worthy adversary.

    Nie Ou painted and inscribed during the snow in the winter month of 1992.