cold mountain clay
This exhibition at Gagosian, Hong Kong, featured a new body of work inspired by the Chinese monk Hanshan’s practice of writing on rocks, tree trunks, and cave walls.
De Waal’s new works are made through a cycle of inscription and effacement. He begins by coating a wood panel in liquid kaolin; while the slip is still wet, he floats flecks of gold leaf and writes lines of Hanshan’s poetry in graphite, oil stick, and charcoal. He then brushes these marks with additional layers of kaolin slip, repeating the process multiple times to produce a “fugitive poem,” an ethereal palimpsest of text that emulates the haze of memory.
Photography: Stephen Head