Clarissa von Spee

The Cleveland Museum of Art recently acquired prints by Li Yuxuan, Xu Zhonghong and Qu Zuochun to help promoting a new generation of Chinese printmakers whose works will bring more visibility and diversity in geography and gender to the museum’s reknown prints and drawings collection.


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Li Yuxuan 李雨萱, Biodiversity 《万物生-蜉二》, 16x18cm, 2019

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Li Yuxuan 李雨萱, Biodiversity 《万物生-蜉三》, 16x18cm, 2019

Li Yuxuan was born in 1991, studied at Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts and received her MA from there. The Sichuan Academy of Fine Art is traditionally known for its monochrome woodcuts of remarkable refinement and detail. In continuing the institution’s legacy, Li’s prints are exquisite, small and cut with intriguing detail.


In these two prints, Li Yuxuan creates the silhouette of an insect cut out in delicate lines from a small wooden block. Indentations create a pointillist texture that sets the insect against what looks like a diffusion of light. The image provokes the association with insects caught and preserved millions of years ago in semi-transparent amber.  Biodiversity points to our heritage of nature and a fragile ecosystem.



Xu Zhonghong 徐中宏, Gloves – Mission II《手套·使命Ⅱ》,90X120cm,2018

Xu Zhonghong graduated from the Yunnan Academy of Fine Arts.  Gloves Mission 2 is a monumental sheet print impressed in photographic detail from plywood that here substituted the traditional wood block of limiting size, allowing the artist to achieve a larger print format.  The print depicts in photographic detail a worn off working glove reflecting the work of a human who – as the title suggests – was on a rescue mission – exposed to harsh conditions and a rough environment that stressed the material to a breaking point, perhaps also pointing to the wearer’s physical and mental state of exhaustion.


Qu Zuochun 瞿作纯, Time Lapse 4《时光叠变系列之四》, 92×90cm, 2019

Qu Zuochun graduated from Guangzhou Art Academy. Time Lapse belongs to a series of prints of large geometric forms built up in painstakingly applied overlayered impressions of black ink. This composition of two upright rectangular geometric forms impressed on paper in shades of ink create the effect of three dimensionality and light falling through a gap, perhaps conveying the message that time is as fugitive as light.


(Chinese translation: Haiyao Zheng)

Clarissa von Spee, PhD 史明理 Chair of Asian Art and James and Donna Reid Curator of Chinese Art © Howard Agriesti, courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art