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Willy Russell: 'Seeing Better' - Paintings 2008–2017

Contemporary Chinese woodcuts from Heilongjiang

Contemporary Chinese woodcuts from PuErh, Yunnan


In Heilongjiang, a distinctive form of landscape prints using oil-based inks was developed in the late 1950s, by young mostly amateur artists transplanted to the North-East as part of Mao’s plan to exploit the Great Northern Wastes. The Great Northern Wilderness (or Wastes) School was thus established. From the 50s onwards, with the founding of the Heilongjiang Provincial Printmaking Institute, printmaking developed and flourished. Prints are mainly made using multi-blocks and rich colours to depict the vast and impressive natural scenery of the region.

Two printmakers working today in Heilongjiang are Kong Fanjia (b.1957) and Yu Chungyou (b.1953), both second generation printmakers from the North East. The prints of Kong Fanjia continue the tradition of the Northern Wilderness School and reflect the vastness of the northern landscape, while those of Yu Chengyou focus more often on wildlife and the spiritual in nature. In this they have moved forward from the early printmakers whose work was largely representational. Both Kong and Yu are hugely skilled, working on large scale prints. Kong uses mostly oil based inks while Yu is a master of water-soluble inks. His prints are hand burnished, that is to say printed without a press, resulting in wonderfully subtle lyrical work.

Works by Kong Fanjia and Yu Chengyou are in the collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and in the Muban Collection in London.

Prints currently available:

Rolling Hills, 2002
by Kong Fanjia

Melody of the Northern Autumn
by Liu de Cai

Buds in Winter, 1995
by Yu Chungyou

The Fruit (Pheasants in Winter), 1998
by Yu Chungyou

Spring Tour (Quail), 1996
by Yu Chungyou

Autumn Dream (Ducks), 1994
by Yu Chungyou

RollingHills NorthernAutumn BudsinWinter TheFruit SpringTour AutumnDream