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Mansheng Wang: Art and Artlessness Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College, Feb. 15 - May 27, 2011

Ancient Chinese Art Is Uniquely Interpreted in a Modern Idiom --

FLUSHING, NY, January 31, 2011 – This retrospective of over 70 works, organized in conjunction with Queens College’s “Year of China,” reveals the inspiration for Mansheng Wang’s serene, contemplative creations in relation to centuries-old Chinese art, which Wang interprets in a modern idiom. The exhibit includes landscapes, botanical studies, iconic Buddhist imagery, and calligraphy, as well as Wang’s ink and color works on paper and canvas. Art and Artlessness explores the ways in which Buddhism and Chinese tradition have influenced Wang’s form and content, and shows how he transforms classical subjects and conventions into personal interpretations that intersect with Western culture.

In Taiyuan, a city in north central China, Wang began studying Chinese calligraphy and painting on his own at the age of seven. Following graduation from the Classical Chinese Literature Department of Shanghai’s Fudan University in 1985, he worked for over a decade as a director and producer of documentary programs on Chinese and Tibetan art and culture at China Central Television in Beijing. He is also an essayist, and his writings as well as his artwork can be seen in the catalogue accompanying this exhibition and on his website,

Wang recently held solo exhibitions at the Today Art Museum—a museum of contemporary art in Beijing—and at Sarah Lawrence College. His work has been featured at many venues, including Wave Hill House and Kaikodo Gallery in New York and the University of Pittsburgh Art Gallery, where he showed with celebrated Chinese avant-garde artists Gu Wenda, Xu Bing, and Zhang Hongtu.

Wang’s style is informed by the artist-scholar tradition of self-cultivation and art as a meditative practice.  His recent work touches upon environmental challenges, the need for balance, and the loss of silence in modern life. Wang quotes the Analects of Confucius as a source for both his philosophy of art and the title of this exhibition: “Wildness results when nature overpowers adornment. Superficiality results when adornment overpowers nature. One

can only become a gentleman when adornment and nature are balanced.”

“In this,” Wang says, “Confucius was reflecting on how to be a person, but I think the statement applies equally to art. I enjoy reading the Analects because, although the sayings are short and simple, they are rich in meaning. They make me think about how to be a person and how to do my art, balancing adornment and nature, art and artlessness.” 

Chinese objects from the Godwin-Ternbach Museum’s collections, chosen by Wang, will help to contextualize the artist’s sources and inspirations, as will objects from his personal collection of material related to China’s traditional arts.

Related public programs include an opening reception with a talk and exhibition walk-through with France Pepper, executive director of Shen Wei Dance Arts and former director of arts and culture programs at the China Institute; a talk and calligraphy demonstration by Mansheng Wang; and a film series on the “old” and “new” China.

For information about the exhibition and programs, call 718.997.4747 or visit .  Exhibition entry and public programs are FREE.

Museum Hours

Mon.–Thurs. 11 am to 7 pm, Sat. 11 am to 5 pm

The museum’s schedule reflects the college’s academic calendar. It is closed during college recesses and holidays. Call 718.997.4747 to verify dates of current and upcoming exhibitions and events.

On your visit to Queens College, you may also want to view another Year of China exhibition: Cheap Shots: Made in China; Beijing Bicyclists and Pedestrians, January 28 - May 27, Queens College Art Center, Rosenthal Library 6th Floor. During a trip to Beijing, New York-based photographer and performance artist Tommy Mintz shot a surreptitious series of photographs of pedestrians and bicyclists navigating a construction site in the fourth most densely populated city in China.

Travel Information

By car, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is 40 minutes from midtown Manhattan.  Directions to the campus are at

The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is the only comprehensive collection of art and artifacts in the borough of Queens, housing nearly 4,000 objects that date from ancient to modern times. The mission of the GTM has grown over time from serving as a teaching museum for the benefit of art and art history students to embracing all disciplines and an increasingly diverse and engaged community. All exhibitions are free, as are their related lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, films, concerts, and tours.


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Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B
(718) 997-5593

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