Dunhuang and Taklamakan drawings – China 2007

Reviewing Hans Landsaat’s work, one could conclude that for him being a visual artist is closely connected to his passion for travelling. Not as a tourist, wanting to relax and amuse himself, but as a curious and amazed discoverer of unknown worlds, getting to know how people live and what occupies them, how cities develop, how landscapes evolve.

His impressions are recorded in small sketchbooks and in his studio become a goldmine of ideas upon which he can draw repeatedly for his drawings and paintings. A number of returning motives often result in a series of drawings and begin to live a life of their own.

The travel destinations are never chosen impulsively: immense deserts, remarkable historic sites, seashores and rivers in different parts of the world, were carefully selected.

Dunhuang 36, China 2007 During the spring of 2007 Hans Landsaat and his wife, Joanne, travelled to China for the third time. Their main destinations were the Buddhist caves of Mogao, near Dunhuang, and the vast Taklamakan desert in the northwest. After his desert experiences in Australia, Landsaat was very curious to see and experience the shape of a desert in a totally different region with a totally different climate. The desert in the northwest of China surpassed his boldest imagination. His experiences were so overwhelming, that for several months after returning home he could not find the images to express them in his work.

Taklamakan 20, China 2007 Taklamakan 08, China 2007 In the meantime, however, a series of characteristic drawings has emerged, made on Thai handmade mulberry paper, using Chinese brushes of various sizes, using Chinese rubbing ink. This washed ink technique allows him to play with warm grey areas, deep black contours and sparkles of light which arise from leaving parts of the paper uncovered. The initial drawings are of the oases in the desert, with their vertically uprising rows of willows and poplars. Now there are also sheets with a simple play of lines, expressing the timeless extensiveness of the desert and others, in which raging sandstorms swirl upwards. It is a start, but these drawings make us keen to see what is still to come.

Josine Bokhoven
Amsterdam, 31 October 2007