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Qiu Mai (Michael Cherney) (b. 1969)

“Map of Mountains and Seas #18” 2017

Photograph, ink on mitsumata paper
Mounted as a hanging scroll
128.7 x 56.6 cm. (50 1/2 x 22 1/4 in.)

Artist’s seal: Qiu

Michael Cherney was born in New York in 1969. He studied Chinese and East Asian history at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and studied further at the Beijing Language Institute. Michael, a self-taught photographer, has used photography to spin the spirit of traditional Chinese ink painting into the contemporary world. He has been living and travelling extensively in China for well over twenty years, capturing the reality and suggestiveness of the landscape he traverses through photography and then using the soft and receptive mitusmata paper and ink to print images that often look more like actual paintings in the “Great Tradition” of Chinese art than they do photographs. According to Cherney’s website: “Map of Mountains and Seas is a photographic reflection on the Shanhaijing, the Guideways through Mountains and Seas, a text with versions dating back to the 4th century B.C. The Guideways is a confluence of real and abstract geographies. Hundreds of mountains and waterways are mentioned, but only a handful of these can be ascribed to identifiable locations…” Michael’s images are of course identifiable locations, some with historical significance, others photographed strictly for their scenic value as in the present image of Beitianshan, “North Heavenly Mountains,” in central Xinjiang province. It might be said that his various series and individual works comprise an atlas, photographic and poetic, that reflects a vagabond spirit and searching eye and mind. Cherney’s works are held at present in such public collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Getty Research Institute, Princeton University Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Chengdu Contemporary Art Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, Cleveland Museum of Art, St. Louis Art Museum and Portland Art Museum and in private collections as well.

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