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Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary Chinaby Maxwell K Hearn
Synopses & Reviews
The Chinese tradition of and#147;ink artand#8221; stretches far beyond works in ink, to embrace a set of aesthetic principles centered on renewal and reinterpretation of the past. The 80 works, by 40 contemporary artists, featured in Ink Art and#160;range from variations on the written word to radical abstractions to contemporary landscapes, and represent media as diverse as photography, video, ceramic, wood, bronze, and stainless steeland#151;as well as traditional ink (which might be on cardboard, polyester, or the human body). They include such iconic pieces as Book from the Sky by Xu Bing and Han Jar Overpainted with Coca Cola Logo by Ai Weiwei, and#147;pseudo-charactersand#8221; by Gu Wenda, handscrolls by Liu Dan, and videos and animation by Qiu Anxiong and Chen Shaoxiong. The illuminating texts give a history of contemporary Chinese ink painting and how it is perceived in the West. A discussion of the works themselves show how they respond to, subvert, or reinterpret the traditional idioms to define a modern artistic identity that remains both Chinese and global.
"As this exciting volume, showcasing 80 pieces by 40 artists, makes clear, China's ancient ink art aesthetic remains very much alive, with the tradition's tenets now extending beyond works in actual ink to include ceramic, wood, bronze, stainless steel, photography, and video. Hearn tracks the evolution of ink art by situating it in relation to the West, and shows how various pieces follow, and eventually depart vibrantly from ancient Chinese techniques and themes. Indeed, some of the most striking pieces are produced using traditional ink on unusual surfaces. These include graceful, old-world tableaux by Duan Jianyu on workaday cardboard boxes. Meanwhile, the bold, tattoo-like face paintings by Zhang Huan feature lettering that grows in volume and density over the span of nine photographs. Equally fascinating are works that actively connect China to the rest of the world, including the huge '100 Layers of Ink' trilogy by Yang Jiechang, which evokes Western abstract painting, but uses ink instead of oil or acrylics. The volume illustrates the diversity and adaptability of one of China's signature artistic traditions. 250 color illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An illuminating investigation into how contemporary Chinese artists have reinterpreted past traditions to forge new artistic paths
About the Author
Maxwell K. Hearn is Douglas Dillon Curator in Charge, department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wu Hung is Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and director, Center for the Art of East Asia, The University of Chicago.
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