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The Eye Having to Have Looked at Enough Examples to Really See . . .

A talk by Ni Yibin

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
11377 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Dr. Ni will discuss decoding the iconography of some frequently seen décor on Chinese pictorial representations.

In grand auction catalogs, exhibition catalogs, and art books on Chinese art, descriptions of images such as "a man and a woman standing in a garden" and "split-pagoda design," which hardly make sense, have prevented numerous thought-provoking themes from reaching modern readers. While editing the 2,200-entry Dictionary of Chinese Ceramics, Dr. Ni Yibin encountered many such examples, which prompted him to embark on a new project of deciphering long-lost narrative scenes in Chinese art. These scenes were passed down over thousands of years and served a function very similar to that of television in our time in entertaining and educating the public. However, they face the danger of becoming incomprehensible in recent years as education in classics has deteriorated. Dr. Ni has taken the task as his vocation: by searching through four continents, he has collected tens of thousands of images of relics and organized them into a visual dictionary that contains hundreds of lost literary themes. In his lecture, he will share his findings during his last ten years' endeavor with eye-catching pictures.

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Ni Yibin, born in Shanghai, formerly taught Chinese art and culture at the University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore, and is now a free-lance writer. He obtained his MA and PhD degrees at University College London. In recent years, he has worked at deciphering lost story scenes in Chinese art.

His recent publications on Chinese art include: English editor, Dictionary of Chinese Ceramics (2002), "Fine and Decorative Arts" and "The Performing Arts" in China: Empire and Civilization, (ed. E. Shaugnessy, 2000), and Seventeenth Century Jingdezhen Porcelain from the Shanghai Museum and the Butler Collections: Beauty's Enchantment (Shanghai Museum, 2005).


310 825-8683

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies

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