“POLAR Light, Ink Ocean: The Exhibition of Chinese Ink Painting and Artists to the Antarctic,” featuring works by eight Chinese artists, is on display at Huafu Art Space through December 7.
The names include Cai Guangbin, Lu Chuntao, Wei Jiqing, Huang Zhiyang and Wang Tiande, all pioneers in transforming traditional ink into contemporary art.
The spotlight of the exhibition goes to Wei Qingji. The artist uses areas of white wash, silhouette, pencil drawing and ink-jet printing. He rubs, scratches, saturates and mixes ink and wash “to conjure up the meaning of life and fate” in his eyes. While many experimental ink-wash artists eliminate realism and figures, Wei frequently depicts figures — a hand, a foot, a wing, a horse, a lion, a wolf poised and howling atop a huge black bone. Wei calls them special symbols.
Experimental ink-wash painting was a small art movement in China in the mid-1990s, and Wei, 43, is one of the youngest among the group. Born in Qingdao, Shandong Province, Wei majored in traditional ink-wash painting at Nankai University in Tianjin and earned a post-graduate degree in mural painting at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2003.
His experimental works have a strong visual impact, evoking graffiti, cartoons, myths and Western abstract paintings from the 1970s and 80s.
Another highlight at the exhibition is the works created by Cai Guangbin.
Cai’s ink-wash paintings look less like the creation of a brush on rice paper than the product of unfocused black-and-white photography, often almost ghostly. Here, traditional subjects depicted on rice paper are rendered with a totally different look, becoming conceptual and profound.
Born in 1963 in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province, Cai graduated with a degree in traditional ink-wash painting from the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou.
He creates what others call a “no-brush trace with gradation effect,” which is acclaimed by critics and experts in the art community. He says he uses some tools other than those traditionally used for painting, such as a sprinkling can and repeated overlapping.
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He said he refers often to visual images on the Internet and mobile phones to reveal disturbances in society.
“The psychological movement of the people and their living conditions are what I want to depict more deeply in my artworks,” he says.
Besides the works showcased at Huafu Art Space, some others created by the eight Chinese artists will also be shown inside an Antarctic polar cruise in late November from Shanghai to echo the title of this exhibition.