Asia Week 2014: Contemporary Chinese Ink

Exhibition dates are March 14 to
March 22, 2013

Preview Exhibition →


Landscape painting capturing the depth and beauty of China’s natural forms has been heralded for thousands of years in Chinese society: patronized and enjoyed by the imperial and scholars alike. Tradition is imperative to every artist’s education, and serves as the starting ground for each artist’s creative practice. With ink, these artists preserve important connections to their heritage while pursuing vibrant new directions. Amid rising popularity and interest in recent years in this freshly traditional genre, the Chinese Porcelain Company is honored to present Landscape and Nature in Contemporary Chinese Ink. This dynamic group show features both the seminal and new work of the masters of contemporary ink and their disciples: Liu Dan, Zeng Xiaojun, Shen Qin, Tai Xiangzhou, Lee Chunyi, and Zhang Yirong.

Beginning in the early 1990s, we have been privileged to feature the work of Liu Dan, arguably the forefather of Chinese contemporary ink practice. Liu Dan once again applies his deft brush to one of his original motifs: the poppy. This majestic poppy is finished in breath-taking detail, showing a masterful interplay of subtle brushwork and delicate coloration. Its grandeur is indicative of Liu Dan’s stature in the contemporary Chinese art world.

Zeng Xiaojun, who we have been grateful to work with since the early 2000s, presents three paintings of wood and trees: his personal obsession and fascination. The exhibition features two large scale paintings of Qing Qi Gu Guai, a magnificently strange two-thousand-year-old cypress that has inspired prolific emperors such as Kangxi and Qianlong. These obsessively worked paintings display Zeng Xiaojun’s full mastery of classical painting techniques and capacity to capture the intricate nuances of trees and roots.

In the same school as long time friend Liu Dan is Shen Qin, a highly refined and private artist from Nanjing. We have been given the rare chance to bring a selection of three works from his practice to an American audience. Shen Qin is inspired by modern Western abstraction and Minimalism, but at the same time chooses to work in the traditional black and white ink realm. These three hauntingly delicate ink paintings are all rendered on a very fine rice paper, and are highly mysterious, indicative of the richness of Shen Qin’s inner feelings. His mesmerizing and unorthodox depiction of lotus ponds and rice paddies, two commonplace scenes, makes the ordinary mysteriously magical.

We are pleased to also include the works of the rising stars of contemporary ink, our three younger artists: Tai Xiangzhou, Lee Chunyi, and Zhang Yirong. Tai Xiangzhou breathes a modern spirit into the classical Chinese art form of scroll painting. His imagined landscape, Paradise Mountain, is both poetic and bold, from robust mountain crevasses to flowing rivers. This scroll is filled with evocative details that invite the viewer to contemplate not just the nuances of natural world but how they echo the dimensions of a spiritual one. Innovative artist Lee Chunyi pushes new ground with his poignant new work, Falling Black Stars. Lee mimics the texture of rock tablets by using the unconventional tool of cork, custom made into square tiles and used as ink stamps. Despite his unorthodox structured grid pattern, he still adheres to the traditional subject matter of nature, rendering a large sunflower out of inverted stars, exploring his interest in the relationship between man and nature. Zhang Yirong explores her new-found fascination with butterflies. Thanks to her subtle coloration and magnificent imagination, Zhang Yirong imbeds within the butterfly’s wings deep mountain ranges and rich landscapes. All three artists manage to create vignettes of paintings within the actual work, giving movement and vibrancy to each painting.

The constant search for a uniquely modern Chinese voice undoubtedly has roots in the ancient ink tradition and so fittingly, all this paintings seek to depict nature’s jewels of this majestic land. This exhibition– through the masterful hands of these highly skilled and innovative ink painters – manages to transport the poignancy of nature in China’s past and present right into our hearts and souls.

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