Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Contemporary Ink Painting at Doland

Keeping the tradition of Chinese ink painting alive was the aptly titled Contemporary Ink Painting show at the Duolun Museum of Modern Art, which opened on Tuesday. Featuring an array of artists from different countries using a variety of mediums and techniques, each artist used Chinese ink in some way. Some chose video, others sculpture, with most just worked on a canvas or paper. To be frank, the traditional two-dimensional ink paintings, while sometimes possessing interesting content, mostly bored me and came off as very decorative (in the bad way, not the good one). What I found myself drawn to most were the large scale, abstract pieces which were all quite minimal, and said more about the process rather than the product. The strength of the exhibition, I suppose, was the meeting of the traditional form and the modern artist. Observing what an artist of this time does with a medium with milllenia of history and techniques. With a common medium, each artists' individual aescthetic preference became the focus In the end some failed, but most succeeded. For me, the ones that succeeded seemed to reject the traditional use of the ink, and instead used it to create the content-less works I mentioned earlier. In addition, the artists themselves were an interesting bunch, ranging from young to old, and foreign to native. The names that stick out in my mind are Li Huasheng, Barbara Edelstein (wife of JJ, the Art in Translation teacher) and even yu Youhan had two pieces, both very much in his black and white abstract style.

I'm torn when I think of the future of ink painting in China, at least based on the show at Duolun. The least interesting seemed to be the artists who relied on formerly established traditions, while the more contemporary pieces that seemed to not even acknowledge the medium stood above. Is the future of Chinese Ink painting a move away from traditional forms and techniques? Go to Duolun and see for yourself.

Duolun Museum of Modern Art

Li Huasheng's piece (the title escapes me)

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