Wang Chao: MAO TONG ZHONGGUO. (The Hat Unites China). Hangzhou, 2005. Page with woodblock-printed title slip and then 13 fullpage original colour woodblock prints. Woodblock-printed publisher's colophon. 40x28 cm. Silk brocade-covered boards.
A finely-produced colour woodblock-printed artist's book by the eminent and accomplished contemporary Chinese woodblock print artist, Wang Chao. As with much of Wang Chao's work, this creation is multilayered in meaning and somewhat whimsical. The title of the work can have a number of interpretations, the most obvious as per the direct translation of the title above. Reading the title in reverse comes up with the title: 'China Through a Hat'. Moreover, 'maotong' together can mean 'hat stand' and, as can be seen, all the prints feature a traditional Chinese hat stand. So a different homophone interpretation of the title can be 'China as a Hat Stand'. Further, 'mao' - hat - is also a homophone for Mao, as in Chairman Mao. Thus 'Mao Unites China'. It can be seen that a number of the prints feature the Mao cap. So the work can be seen as a commentary on recent Chinese history viewed through a progression of hat styles, each hat perched on a hat stand with decoration that can allude to the events of the time corresponding with the date of the hat.
The 13 prints have a loose chronological progression starting with a print of a traditional conical servant or farmer's 'coolie hat' on a hatstand with a dragon design, thus traditional imperial China. The association of the hatstand design with the period of the hat is far from clear in a number of the prints. One easy association is the print with a mao cap with a red star on a cracked and repaired hat stand....
A highly original work.
The woodblock-printed publisher's colophon states that this work was produced in the Autumn of 2005 and produced at Wang Chao's 'studio,' Jiuli Fang, at Zizhu Zhai (Purple Bamboo Studio) which is a workroom within the Woodblock Print Department of the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. The colophon continues that this was was printed in a very limited edition of 15 copies, of which this is No. 4. Also signed, numbered and dated (2005. 9) by Wang Chao in pencil below the printed colophon.
Artist's books by Wang Chao are notoriously hard to obtain.
Available, as of: 26/04/2018
Was item 215 in printed List 189.
Record produced by Hanshan Tang Books, www.hanshan.com.