Inside Outside: Outside Inside—A Century of East Asian Landscapes 1900s–2000s highlights how East Asian landscape traditions remain vibrant in our contemporary world. Artists from China, Japan, and Korea, in dialogue with earlier conventions, often simultaneously echo and contradict artistic traditions. Employing new media and methods of interpretation, many of the artists use formats that clearly are rooted in tradition but reflect the rapid transformation of urban and natural environments. Tensions between the natural world and the transition to modernity offer us an avenue to explore how urbanization affects and complements nature.

Groupings of objects suggest variations on themes within the genre of landscape, including real and imagined landscapes, the body as medium, cityscapes, seasons of change, and political histories centered on the specifics of geography and place. Inside Outside can also refer to the artist’s own reality: a depiction of a landscape can be a means of describing an inner world, not just the visible one.

In this way, many of the artists in the exhibition meditate on how the natural world influences their own sense of identity—through commentary on environmental and social changes, through nostalgia for the past, and through feelings of dislocation, from physically moving between East and West and considering those differing realities. Asked more generally: How do human nature and the natural world work together or against one another?

Importantly, this exhibition invites you to reflect on boundaries within the museum—either inside or outside the museum walls. Consider the gallery’s location in the Asian wing, adjacent to the water and rock gardens, and how the exhibition itself celebrates the extension of landscape traditions. How does the natural landscape affect us physiologically? How critical is it for us to spend time outside in order to develop our creativity, to rest, and to engage natural elements like sunlight, nighttime, wind, rain, trees, and animals?

This exhibition is generously supported by the Quinn Family Charitable Foundation with additional funding by the Cofrin Curator of Asian Art Endowment.