Extraordinary woodblock prints by visiting Chinese artist on exhibit at UC Santa Cruz

Mother of Mountain Liang, woodblock, 33.4 x 39.3 inch (85 x 100 cm), 2012, by Xiang Silou
Mother of Mountain Liang, woodblock, 33.4 x 39.3 inch (85 x 100 cm), 2012, by Xiang Silou
UC Santa Cruz art gallery with work of Xiang Silou
UC Santa Cruz art gallery with work of Xiang Silou
Artist Xiang Silou at work
Xiang Silou
Thirteen stunning woodblock prints are now on display by acclaimed Chinese artist Xiang Silou in The Eternal Line: Ordinary Stories--an exhibition running through May 7 at the Porter Faculty Gallery on the UC Santa Cruz campus.

A professor at the Fine Arts Institute of Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, Sichuan, where he researches and creates his remarkable black-and-white woodblock prints, Silou is the first visiting artist at UCSC’s new Contemporary Print Media Research Center. This will be his first solo exhibition on the West Coast.

As part of a month-long residency on campus, Silou is also working on woodblock prints in the center’s newly created visiting artist studio, where UCSC students are participating in his project and workshops.

“When I first saw Xiang Silou’s art in a solo exhibition at the Guanlan Original Printmaking Base in China while I was on a residency there in 2012, I was struck by the extraordinary richness of his large woodblock prints,” said UC Santa Cruz art professor Jimin Lee.

“His meticulous, intricate, delicate hand-carved work, which he creates and prints himself, is inspired by the people and landscapes of his native Southwest China,” she added. “It represents an art form believed to go back a thousand years.”

Silou is known for his large-scale, intricately detailed portraits of faces, particularly of elderly people from ethnic minorities of China.
“His images, I believe, provide a deep understanding of Southwest Chinese’s social and cultural identity and diversity,” said Lee. “They exemplify how particular everyday moments or scenes that an artist experiences can be transformed into tactile, tangible printed images. I am very excited that the UCSC community can now see Xiang Silou’s incredible prints up close at the faculty gallery.”

The Contemporary Print Media Research Center is one of several research centers in the Baskin Art Department. Through its new visiting artist program, UC Santa Cruz students will be able to interact and participate in each visiting artist’s projects.

Lee said that the center will continue to bring in visiting artists from different cultural and social backgrounds to benefit UCSC art students.
“By participating in the professional practice of artistic and scholarly research, students will acquire unique working practices and knowledge of diverse skill sets,” said Lee, “while also gaining cultural exposure to the unique individuals selected to participate in the program.”

Sesnon Gallery director Shelby Graham noted that Silou spoke to a packed audience of students, faculty and community members at the gallery last night about his creative process.

“This exhibition provides a great opportunity for alumni to visit Porter College over the weekend to see these spectacular hand-printed woodblock portraits,” said Graham. “At the same time, they can also check out the Art Department’s faculty exhibition now up in the Sesnon Gallery,” she added.