Michael Cherney
~ China

Beijing Exhibition 2006  

Michael Cherney: "I hope [my work] qualifies as many things: Chinese art, contemporary art, photo art, book art, and more."

Honoring tradition not by repeating it but by expanding upon it, Michael Cherney's work uses digital photography to allow Chinese art a new direction.

This may sound presumptuous for a young American artist, even if he has a passion for things Chinese. But that's what his series of albums do.

Cherney photographs Chinese subjects — a group of Tibetan people, rural street scenes, Buddhist statuary, misty mountains. With a handmade mask that blocks all but a thin line of content, he examines the single 35mm frame until he finds the right sliver, the slice that he can and will translate into art. The sliver is scanned, digitally enlarged, and the resultant image is broken into equal-sized sections. These sections, now akin to pages, are printed onto xuan paper. These pages are chine colléd onto backing sheets, dried, and bound in a traditional accordion binding by a Chinese artisan.

On the most elemental lever, Cherney's method allows photography, where one fixed viewpoint is a given, to serve Chinese painting tradition, which is not tied to a fixed perspective. Enlarging the sliver and then sectioning the enlargement causes the fixed eye of the camera to lose its foundation and serve the flexible perspective of Chinese tradition.

This is no dry intellectual game, nor is it using Day-Glo to paint in a Chinese style. You don't even have to appreciate the process to enjoy the art. If you are willing to play, this is the aesthetic game, a gathering web of insinuations, moments of connection, moments of focus, and you participate in the stops and starts of creation and recreation. And if you're lucky, you smile.



Bounded by Mountains Collection
By Michael Cherney
2004 - 2005 (California / China).

6 x 19 cm closed; 480 cm (12.5') extended. Accordion-style page structure. In case with silk brocade wrap. Covers constructed of Chinese rosewood and red sandalwood. Handmade xuan paper pages of blue sandalwood bark and rice stalks from Anhui province, China. Chine collé and sutra binding by Bai Xue from Beijing, China. Calligraphy for the title strips by Zhu Chengjun. Clerical script is used on the wood covers. Seal script used on the cases. Seals used in the collection carved by Cherney.

Cherney is reluctant to provide "story info" with the albums, refusing even captions. For him, the "reframed image (the excerpt that is further selected and broken down in to pages for the album) becomes something abstract and new altogether."

Untitled album: H3 $5,400
Untitled album: H8
Untitled album: V4

Click each image for more

Untitled album: H3

Untitled album: H8

Untitled album: V4

Beijing Exhibition 2006  
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Page last update: 05.07.08


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