How to imitate the “Four Wangs”

I just went to see Xu Bing‘s (徐冰) excellent installation at the British Museum.

Xu Bing is a contemporary Chinese artist and has been described as a member of the Chinese avant garde movement. The installation in the British Museum is an innovative “shadow painting” copy of a Wang Shimin 王時敏 piece from 1641.


Wang was one of the “four Wangs”, who make up four of the Six Masters of the early Qing period (清六家) : Yun Shouping, Wu Li and the Four Wangs: Wang Shimin, Wang Jian, Wang Yuanqi and Wang Hui.

In the installation Xu Bing uses discarded leaves (from Kew Gardens), old newspapers and twigs to create a shadow image of a classic Chinese landscape (山水).

Xu Bing is famous for much of his work playing with language, including a book with over 4000 different characters which are entirely original and of his own making.

He has also invented ‘New English Calligraphy’ in which he makes English look like Chinese:

Here he has written the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill: look carefully and you can read it!

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after


The installation is on at the British Museum until July 10th

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