With Taihu Rock—East Wind II, Tianjin Ren (b. 1962) transforms the refined art of traditional Chinese calligraphy by marrying it with the scale and brio of outdoor metal sculpture.
Shaped to resemble cursive Chinese calligraphy spelling out “east wind” (dongfeng, 東風), the 8-foot-tall sculpture erupts from its two-dimensional written origins into three dimensions like an illustration in a pop-up book. This phrase references a Chinese idiom that encourages total preparation, in case a critical element is missing: “Everything is ready except the east wind.”
Although Ren cast the sculpture from nickel silver, “Taihu rock” refers to the limestone formations found in Lake Tai in Jiangsu province. Historically, this was one of the main sources for scholar’s rocks, water-eroded stones that have been prized by Chinese scholars since the Tang dynasty (618–907). The hollowed-out, perforated form of Ren’s sculpture evokes a similar reverence for the natural world and its processes.
Stop by to “read” the multilayered meanings of this outdoor public sculpture.