An installation entitled Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Village Utopia by Xu Bing – one of China’s best known and critically acclaimed artists – is to be unveiled at Chatsworth for the ninth annual Beyond Limits monumental sculpture exhibition this year. The multi-media work incorporates both natural and man-made elements in the form of natural rock formations, ceramics, exotic plants in addition to mist effects. Organisers Sotheby’s describe it as one of the most impressive installations to date by Xu Bing. It will be seen at the opening of this year’s exhibition on September 8 in and around the Seahorse fountain, a circular pond on the historic South lawn in the Chatsworth Garden. This location is usually off limits. The Seahorse fountain is undergoing restoration.
The dream-like landscape of Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Village Utopia was inspired by the classic Chinese fable “Tao Hua Yuan” (“Peach Blossom Spring”) written by the scholar Tao Qian in AD421, about a chance discovery of an ethereal utopia where people live in harmony with nature. To reproduce Tao Qian’s utopia, Xu Bing has created hundreds of ceramic objects and collected mountain rocks from five different regions in China to reflect the specific characteristics of their regional identities. The full extent of the sculpture, arranged concentrically around the pond, will be revealed at the opening of this year’s Beyond Limits. This three-dimensional installation has been designed to bring Chinese ink painting to life. As the visitors walk around the elements of the installation, the mountains, trees, figures, houses and reflections on the pool coalesce into new tableaux vivant, enabling the viewer to experience Chinese ink painting in a three-dimensional sensory experience.