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Covering the Sky

Author: Liang Shaoji Translator: Serein Liu 2016

I always see architecture as the sculpture of space, and a physical poem. It is more publicity, permanent, abstract. The ancient temples in Greece, St. Paul Cathedral designed by Michelangelo, Chapelle de Ronchamp designed by Le Corbusier, The Temple of Heaven in China… They have all declared the “scene” and “landscape” among the heaven, the earth, gods and human. In order to explore a synthetic way involving sculpture, painting, architecture and materials, I chose to study tapestry. And for nearly 27 years, I have been working with silkworms for my Nature Series. But I still have growing interests in architecture.

In 2002, I created Liu He and Nest for Junction Architectural Experiment of Chinese Contemporary Art (curated by Ai Weiwei and Zhang Qing). In the same year, I designed a huge abstract sculpture for the new space of Tiantai Museum. And in 2016, Tiantai was calling for the proposals of sculptures for Shifenghu Poetry Park. And that is how I started. It happened naturally and accidentally. I wanted to present the beauty and poetic spirit of Tiantai by breaking the conventions (simple interpretation and figurative sculpture) of a poetry park.

Tiantai, richly endowed by nature, is one of the original places of Chinese Buddhism. Numerous poets have praised the extraordinary beauty of Tiantai, like SUN Chuo (314-371) and Li Bai (701-762). And the story about Monk Hanshan residing in the Mingyan Cave has also enriched my knowledge of “seclusion” culture.  

That’s why I chose a triangle cave as the basic structure. And the curve created by the dislocated structures features my romantic imagination of ridge, mountains, water, and cloud, which has enabled the architecture to become a poeticised language. It also resembles the floating clouds among the mountains like a dancing poem. When it is lighted inside, beams of light filtered out through the gaps on the wall. Inside, there are small assembly hall, poetry club, teahouse, Zen room… The walls are engraved with A Poem of Tiantai and the Road of Tang Poetry. The core of my Nature Series is to question “life and time”, “existence” and “nature”. It will eventually lead us to think about the relation among heaven, earth, gods and human. Covering the Sky was developed based on my Nature Series. It depicts the poetic life in the language of architecture with modern, concise and romantic vocabulary.      

This work is no doubt a challenge for a county park. It might lead an innovative way for this conventional and religious place. Although confronted with such challenge, I was not worried at all. The concept of architecture will keep showing up in my works in the future.  

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