Bingyi: Apocalypse

Completed over the course of four and a half years, Bingyi's monumental scroll painting Apocalypse (2011-2015) recollects her first-hand experience of the sites of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and flood. Created in collaboration with local topography, the delicate ink wash on silk paradoxically expresses the terror of catastrophe and the awesome vitality of nature reclaiming the human world. From this amorphous background, using the meticulous and idealizing language of Song-dynasty court paintings, Bingyi draws out the features of a ruined landscape in the midst of its rebirth.


Bingyi, Apocalypse, 2011-2015, ink on silk, 2600 x 90 cm, installation view. Photographer: Jonathan Leijonhuvfud.


The major scenes in the painting are each accompanied with a poem by the artist (translated from Chinese by Alan Yeung).


Shattered earth, crumbled heaven

Tear the world open, and then begin to observe

How, in this now wide-open world

Do humans and nature coexist?




An earthquake petrified

If the earthquake pressed itself whole into amber

And froze itself 

It would become

A fossil




Lost souls and wandering ghosts

Everywhere in this magnificent continent

Are lost souls and wandering ghosts

Underneath every one of its cities

The earth rumbles





Knotted trees

All the wood

Has grown into the same

Knotted forest




A thousand mountains under water

Mountains and seas, seas and mountains

In an instant:

A thousand underwater mountains




Drifting wood

At the site of catastrople

An abundance of wood: logs, chips, splinters





A grave for the masses

Tens of thousands of the dead

Buried here

In this one pit

Tens of thousands




A secret garden

These blasted houses

Seven years later

Are by the cells of the trees remade 

A garden