CHINESE INK CHINESE ARTISTS ARTIST INTERVIEWS
In a conversation with Chinese-based art blog RedBox Review the artist Liang Quan (b. 1948), living and working in Shenzhen, China, explains how ink painting is used in contemporary art and how this exploration continues to follow the philosophy of traditional Chinese painting.
Liang Quan is considered as one of the pioneers of contemporary ink painting.
“Ink painting”, also known as “wash painting”, was developed in China during the Tang Dynasty. Ink painting or shui-mo hua in Chinese (水墨畫) is composed of water, shui and Chinese ink, mo. In Western art, using similar techniques, it is known as drawings.
In this conversation Liang Quan highlights to RedBox the difference between ink painting and ink art:
The exploration of using ink and referring to the tradition of Chinese painting is part of a greater narrative to define a cultural identity.
American contemporary artists like Brice Marden and Cy Twombly inspired Liang Quan while he was living and working abroad. On top of using ink painting and water, Liang incorporates paper into his works.
Liang’s ink painting seems abstract but in reality he follows the philosophy of this art. He aims to capture the soul of the subject rather that trying to reproduce the exact appearance of it. As he relates to RedBox,
My use of collage, combining strips of ink and/or tea stained paper, may seem abstract to the unknowing eye, and without direct correlation to a depiction of reality. But my works, collages, are actually diagrams of traditional Chinese landscape paintings and the Chinese still life painting genre of birds and flowers.
Interesting difference between ink painting in West and East: perspective
Having explored ink painting in Western art, Liang Quan observed a major difference between it and Chinese landscape painting: multiple points of perspective are used where Western painting uses only one or two. As he relates to RedBox,
To view a Chinese painting, one’s eye usually follows the flow of water from the bottom of the mountains as it meanders farther into the hills and up the composition of the painting.
Following this philosophy and adding paper strips and color makes Liang’s painting abstract.
After exploring the multiple points of perspective in Chinese landscape painting, Liang Quan combined this concept with the ideals of Nan Pai, also known as Southern School. As said in the RedBox article,
By addressing the theme of Chinese tradition, he is distinguished from his contemporaries choosing to use painting as a depiction of or social response to modern society.
- Wilson Shieh revitalises ancient Chinese painting techniques – video – September 2010 – an overview of a ChooChoo TV interview with the artist
- Gao Minglu’s maximalist exhibition blurs boundaries between traditional and contemporary Chinese art – June 2005 – an excellent profiling of a little-known movement in Chinese art
- Liu Kuo-sung London retrospective inspires potential British Museum collection – May 2010 – a brief post on the works that inspired this interest
- Chinese ink artist Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian shows 80 works in Spain – Guardian, Int Literary Quarterly – January 2009 – an exhibition alluding to a number of contemporary art world trends
- New York gallery launches series 15 New Chinese Ink artist solo shows – Yishu – October 2008 – outlining a number of solo shows with details on a special show by Wei Ligang