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Xiao Zhiyu: Layered Hills send off Glimmering Light


Xiao Zhiyu uses the devices of Chinese traditional image-making to study the concept of landscape as a surface across objects.

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Layered Hills send off Glimmering Light is the starting line of a poem by Wen Tingyun (812–870), which casts a blurry glimpse into the interiors of a lady’s bedroom while she is dressing up. But how can hills be layered and folded inside a room? Perhaps they were on a screen, which once opened became the landscape where she rests asleep.

Here the ambiguity of words refuses to distinguish land from its representation, therefore, like an image on screen, the hills and rivers are stretched, multiplied, scrolled, spliced up and moved around.

Taking up from the devices of Chinese traditional image-making, the concept of landscape is studied as a surface across objects.

On view is a group of painted objects that take upon themes and images encountered in Xiao’s research on landscape in Chinese art history. Transformed through the use of five screen panels created by the artist, the exhibition space is envisioned as an event of bógǔ (博古). Bógǔ refers to the act of studying or appreciating classical artifacts in somebody’s collection. It was a typical gathering of Chinese intellectuals during the Song dynasty (960–1279). 

Xiao Zhiyu (CN, b. 1995) is a Helsinki-based artist. He obtained his MFA in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Arts Helsinki in 2022. In 2025 he will be a resident at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. He is represented by Galleria Fuoricampo (Italy).

Read the full exhibition text here.

The exhibition is supported by Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike). The artist extends his biggest thanks to studio assistant Paavo Kärki.

In 2024, the exhibitions at HAM gallery are supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency.