Tai Xiangzhou’s Parallel Universes

Richard Vinograd

Tai Xiangzhou’s ink paintings have long visualized parallel worlds—both the historical realities of famous scholar’s rocks, depicted to scale with meticulous recreations of their metamorphic shapes, and imaginary realms with explosive visions of cosmogenic scenes in his extended Celestial Chaos series. Both modes are represented in the present exhibition, sometimes further divided in their evocations. A mountain-form rock with pointed spires, titled Scenery of Kunlun, dense with descriptive detail of fissures and hollows, on closer inspection seems not only overgrown with twiggy vines and roots but partly composed from them, along with ghostly shapes suggestive of horse and bird skulls. The cosmic realm is envisioned in most of Tai’s images, very powerfully in a large triptych, aptly titled Parallel Universe # 5, where cloudy nebulae commingle with folded and hollow rocks, floating and hurtling through space, at times evoking vestiges of a starry paleontology.

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