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White Rabbit Gallery’s new exhibition opens 21 December.

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White Rabbit Gallery’s new exhibition opens 21 December.



21 December 2022 – 14 May 2023SYDNEY, 18 November 2022: Following record breaking attendances for “I Loved You”, the White Rabbit Gallery invites you to gather round the 29 artists in Shuo Shu 说书 (Storytelling) and hear the tales they have to tell…SHUO SHU 说书
When wandering through the streets of imperial China, amidst bazaars and teahouses, one might stumble across the figure of a storyteller. Crowds gather around this lone narrator, whose tales of mystical beasts, warriors, and immortals, infuse the air with enchantment. Yet in recent years Shuo Shu, or the art of storytelling, has become a dying tradition. Contemporary Chinese audiences have instead turned their attention to digital content.

Before the age of web fiction and e-readers, the history of the written word in China dates back over 4000 years. In ancient times oracle bones were used for divination by Shang Dynasty emperors and engraved with the oldest known form of Chinese script. From bone to bamboo, wood, stone, silk, and tortoise shells – calligraphy was once inscribed upon various materials. Until one day a Chinese eunuch named Cai Lun, who served the Han court, was attributed with the invention of paper. Paper became print when a Chinese copy of the Diamond Sutra was recognised as the world’s oldest printed book. And one thousand years later, Mao’s Little Red Book came second to the bible as the most printed book on earth.

The artists in Shuo Shu map the evolution of the story from timeless myths and literary romances to political propaganda and modern-day censorship. Artists become shapeshifters, and their stories twist and turn to fit within codes and secret messages. Whilst a closed mind is like a closed book, stories reveal themselves to those who are open.

The White Rabbit Gallery was established in 2009 to share Judith Neilson’s private collection of 21st-century Chinese art with the public. Shuo Shu 说书 will be the 26th exhibition in the Gallery, which is a registered charitable institution funded solely by Judith Neilson.

Shuo Shu 说书, curated by David Williams, opens on 21 December 2022 and runs until 14 May 2023. For all media inquiries, please email:
Hannah McKellar

Top Image: SUN XUN 孙逊, “Magic of Atlas” – The Magician Comes to Luocha, 2020, paint on woodcut, 244 x 976cm – Detail

MAO TONGQIANG 毛同强, Leaseholds, 2016, land ownership papers from various times in China’s history, found picture frames, 500 land ownership papers, dimensions variableOver three years Mao Tongqiang collected five hundred land title deeds, compiling them to illustrate a complex history of land reform in China. Each separate document forms part of an intricate web of changing ideologies that impacted the lives of ordinary people. Some are from the Manchukuo puppet regime established by the Japanese, some from areas under the control of the Nationalist forces led by Chiang Kai-shek, and others from areas occupied by Mao Zedong’s Communist forces. In his research the artist realised “that all the revolutions in Chinese history were about fighting for land.”
ZONG NING 宗宁, Imitation of “Iwami Jutaro Hihi Taiji No Zu”, 2021, inkjet print on photo rag Hahnemüle Baryta paper, 156 x 300cmMongolian-born artist Zong Ning is often inspired by mythology and ancient stories. Borrowing the past to discuss the present, the artist uses photography to recreate scenes from Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Depicting fierce warriors, dark sorcerers, and frightening monsters – each image took between 15 to 45 days to create. Recalling the painted backdrops in the photographic studios of his youth, Zong Ning constructs an alternate reality. Using props, found objects, painted sets, and live models, the artist brings these supernatural tales to life.
YANG JIECHANG 杨诘苍, Tale of the 11th Day, 2012-14, ink and mineral colours on silk, mounted on canvas, 14 panels, 225 x 1988cm polyptych – Photography by Tom Ross Installation view of A Fairy Tale in Red Times: Works from the White Rabbit Collection at National Gallery of Victoria, MelbourneAlmost 20 metres across, this monumental multi-panelled work features a fantastical panoramic landscape. Within it humans and animals frolic, engaging in apparently mutually pleasurable cross-species sexual encounters. The title of the work alludes to Boccaccio’s Decamerone or “Ten Day Event”. It is a collection of stories told by a group of young people sheltering from the plague in a secluded country villa over a period of ten days. Employing meticulous gong bi techniques and traditional Chinese landscape painting styles, the artist creates his own version of what happened on the eleventh day.
WU SHANZHUAN 吴山专, INGA SVALA THÓRSDÓTTIR, Throwing a Flame from a Perspective into a Projection, 2013-14, acrylic on canvas, 4 pieces, 200 x 140cm eachIn a set of four paintings made in collaboration with Inga Svala Thórsdóttir, Wu Shanzhuan adopted a painting method he calls “cloud projection”. It uses uniform, overlaid, and flat brush strokes to blur layers created by perspective. Removing the distance between foreground and background, this spontaneous painting approach creates a camouflage effect. Figures caught in the act of throwing firebombs were inspired by the anti-austerity demonstrations on the streets of Greece in 2014. The artists liken this display of public power to the myth of Prometheus who stole fire from the gods.
GU WENDA 谷文达, Tian Xiang: Forest of Stone Steles (Sixth Series), 2017, marble, 24 pieces, dimensions variable

These ancient stones, millions of years old, were quarried from a site in Shandong province that was once beneath the ocean. The site is located near the birthplace of Confucius, and as such, Gu Wenda named them ‘ru’ rocks – referencing Confucian scholarship. Hand-carved, each stone is ‘wrapped’ with intentionally hybridised, simplified characters created by the artist. The twenty-four stones represent the seasons of the ancient Chinese solar calendar. Returning to a bygone era, the work critically reflects upon our modern rhythms and distance from the cycles of the natural world.

High-res images and a list of artists in the exhibition are available to download here.
Exhibition installation images will be available just prior to our opening date.
White Rabbit Gallery, 30 Balfour Street, Chippendale NSW 2008
Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am — 5pm (during exhibition periods)
Free admission


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