Stones are an old theme in Chinese tradition. Scholars have always been drawn to stones, taking them as the personification of ancient wisdom and the embodiment of the natural universe. Widely present in classic Asian gardens whether on sand or in water and defining their own microcosm, stones embody a sanctity from earlier times.
Ann Niu wishes to capture the spiritual and esoteric nature of stones and infuse them with life. She imagines the map of men’s lives traced on the surface of those stones with curves and creases, bumps and holes, as one’s life story is never flowing evenly.
Ann Niu depicts stones as metaphors or our own existence. We collectively strive to love, be patient, compassionate and hard working. In doing so we hope to mimic these unfaltering stones that remain standing through the ages. But while they are permanent, we are mortal, while they endure, humans cannot and we feel overwhelmed by our own insignificance in the scale of time.
The artist pays homage to the majesty of stones like she pays respects to her ancestors. While the latter may mark or embellish a place in the landscape, stones will always witness the passage from one life to the next.