The Enduring Passion for Ink
Luncheon Discussion with: Yang Jiechang, Artist; Zheng Chongbin, Artist; Britta Erickson, Independent Scholar
Registration at 12:15 pm
Luncheon at 12:30 pm
Close at 2:15 pm
How are contemporary Chinese ink painters making use of or transforming traditional brushwork as they develop new personal styles suited to the present? Yang Jiechang and Zheng Chongbin both began their studies in the time-honored manner, with a painting or calligraphy master, and then earned degrees from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, respectively. How is such training manifest in their current work, and is it still important for an ink painter to experience such an education? Following a screening of excerpts from her recently produced documentary films The Enduring Passion for Ink, Britta Erickson and the artists will discuss these points crucial to the future of ink painting.
The Enduring Passion for Ink: Films on Contemporary Ink Painters consists of ten short films. They introduce the work of ten artists, and address their fundamental artistic choices: Why did s/he choose ink as a medium? How is ink’s expressive range distinct from that of other artistic media? How does the artist go about creating an ink work? How does the artist approach issues such as tradition, creative innovation, and personal expression? Each film features the artist addressing these questions and shows him or her at work in the studio in the process of creating a work of art. Through time-lapsed photography, the film also shows that same painting’s evolution from start to finish. With film you can see how the paintings are created, and hear the artists talk about their inspirations and processes: film can make the experience much richer, and much more accessible. Plus, for those who already know something about ink painting, the films provide an enhanced appreciation of the activity of ink painting, and may raise or answer questions previously off the radar. Ultimately, listening to the artists, watching them paint, and contemplating their finished works of art, It becomes apparent that ink painting, with its long history and profound philosophies, has much to offer to the present day.
Yang Jiechang 杨诘苍 (b. 1956) works fluently in a variety of media including ink painting, video, installation, and performance. He emerged from China’s New Wave movement of the mid-1980s to become a prominent, Paris-based representative of China’s artistic diaspora. He is proficient in ink wash painting, gongbi (fine line), and calligraphy, due to his study with a master followed by training at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, and shaped by a period of immersion in Daoist and Buddhist thought. Yang’s painting is particularly significant in its rare expression of radical thought via masterful manipulation of traditional media.
Zheng Chongbin 郑重宾 (b. 1961) grew up following youthful study with local painting masters and undergraduate training in ink and brush figure painting in the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou (now called the China Academy of Art), Zheng Chongbin moved to the US where he gained a deep understanding of Western art history. Addressing two questions— how can the possibilities of ink as a medium be extended, and how can a new expression of depth and structure be incorporated into ink painting?— he discovered that painting with white acrylic paint and fixer in combination with ink brings new visual interest as well as new technical possibilities to ink painting. The resulting powerful abstract paintings make a compelling case for the future internationalism of ink painting, and serve to demonstrate ways in which ink painting can effect a profound synthesis of east and west.
Britta Erickson, Ph.D. is an independent scholar and curator living in Palo Alto, California. She has curated major exhibitions at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C. (Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing) and the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford (On the Edge: Contemporary Chinese Artists Encounter the West). In 2007 she co-curated the Chengdu Biennial, which focused on ink art, and in 2010 she was a contributing curator for Shanghai: Art of the City (Asian Art Museum, San Francisco). She is currently producing a book and a series of short films about ink painting, The Enduring Passion for Ink (墨咏), and is Art Director for the new Beijing gallery, Ink Studio (墨齋).