Cutting-edge ink-wash paintings take the ancient art to new levels, and even oil painters, printers and sculptors put brush to rice paper in a refreshing show. Wang Jie picks up her brush.
Contemporary ink-wash paintings by 58 artists are exhibited at Mingyuan Art Center in Shanghai which aims to become a heavyweight dealer, commonly known as an "art crocodile."
The exhibit of very different works running through August 5 displays the best of innovative ink-wash works building on ancient traditions.
In October the center will present "Open Expression 2009 - Shanghai Young Artists."
"This show features ink-wash artists whose style and technique contrast with each other," says Lin Feifei, director of Mingyuan Art Center. "With different approaches, concepts and forms, these artists together present the real local art scene of contemporary ink-wash paintings."
For example, Zhang Guiming's nudes and Zhang Peicheng's disassembled human bodies explore possibilities of modernity and exaggeration.
The movement to revitalize and modernize ink-wash painting goes back to the early 19th century when many people believed that traditional painting had already reached its zenith and could not be improved upon.
"The same tough question of creativity and innovation confronts today's young ink-wash painters," says Yang Zhenxin, a veteran local artist and curator of the show.
"Sometimes ancient masterpieces and tradition can be either a springboard and profound inspiration or a set of shackles," Yang says.
"In my view, totally abandoning ink and shade on rice paper is wrong, as that's the core of traditional ink-wash painting," he says. "I am glad some young artists retain some tradition, fused with modern taste, abstractism or realism."
To explore the possibilities of ink-wash painting, the curator has invited several oil painters, print artists and sculptors to take up brush and ink in this exhibition.
"We want to open the possibilities of the ancient art form to more people," Lin says.
(Shanghai Daily July 17, 2009)