The exhibition is the museum’s first presentation of ink art from its collection.
M+ showcases various forms of experimentation with the medium of ink from the 1960s onwards. Art Radar highlights several works of art from the exhibition.
The exhibition “Weight of Lightness: Ink Art from M+” features works from more than 40 artists from across Asia and beyond, celebrating the creative expression through ink around the world. It is on display until 14 January 2018 at the M+ Pavilion.
The aesthetic of ink art is explored in a vast array of media in the show, such as paintings, calligraphy, photography, installation and moving image. Executive Director of M+ Ms Suhanya Raffel comments:
Ink art has been designated as an important area of focus that underlines the museum’s distinctive voice in world visual culture. The Weight of Lightness will introduce audiences to new, cross-cultural perspectives to view ink art in our collection.
The materiality and spirituality of ink art are explored through three sections of the exhibition, ‘Scripts, Symbols, Strokes’, ‘Desire for Landscape’ and ‘Beyond Material’, which highlight the art of calligraphy, the landscape genre and philosophical nature respectively.
In her curatorial statement, curator Lesley Ma remarks:
Whether it is an intuitive line or a purposefully written character; musings about mountains and rocks, flowers and trees, and everything in between; or representations of the internal hopes and fears towards matters in this world and beyond, ink art—endowed with the weight of traditions yet invigorated by the lightness of its material and the experimental vision of artists—possesses boundless potential.
Artists whose works are in the show include Irene Chou, Hidai Nankoku, Hsiao Chin, Hung Fai, Kan Tai-keung, Koon Wai Bong, Kwok Mang-ho (Frog King), Lee Ufan, Leung Kui Ting, Liang Quan, Liu Kuo-sung, Lui Shou-kwan, Ni Youyu, Tong Yang-Tze, Wucius Wong, Xu Bing, Yang Jiechang and Yuan Jai, among others. Art Radar highlights five ink art pieces displayed in the exhibition.
1. Hung Fai
Hung Fai (b.1988, Hong Kong) references Xie He’s Six principles of Chinese painting written in the sixth century and seeks to challenge the notion of “Transmission” mentioned in the text. The exercise of imitation has been a common practice in the teaching of ink art, and it is believed that copying canons and traditional motifs is part of the learning process. However, in this work, Hung Fai explores the notion of authority by inviting his father, Hung Hoi to paint a rock in this piece. As a renowned landscape painter, his father symbolises the figure of authority, while Hung Fai, the son, becomes the pupil. The mark made by brush and cinnabar on paper is then traced with a black fountain pen on damp sheets of paper on either side. During this act, the interactions between the red and black colours mimic the dynamics of knowledge and power transmission.
The artist graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2013, and he explores contemporary Chinese ink art through deconstructing and reconstructing the medium conceptually. His work is included in collections such as M+ and the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
2. Lee Ufan
Korean Dansaekhwa artist Lee Ufan was born in 1936. As an acclaimed figure in the post-war abstract “monochrome painting” movement, Lee Ufan explores the materiality and the paintings’ relationship to the audience and the space in which they are displayed. Working between Japan and Paris, he is also the founding member of the Mono-ha movement in Japan.
With Winds is one of the paintings in his series created between 1987 and 1991. The brushstrokes in perpendicular arrangements exemplify the gestural approach. They are in similar size within the composition in a repetitive fashion. To highlight the materiality of the work, glue is mixed together with the pigments.
The artist has exhibited widely, including at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama and Samsung Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul.
3. Ni Youyu
Chinese artist Ni Youyu (b.1984) works with different media, including painting, sculpture and video. His works are based on Chinese painting’s traditional philosophy. In Galaxy, Ni Youyu first flattens coins and then paints patterns such as miniature landscapes on each of them. These coins act as stars stuck on the surface of walls. The effect of the installation is that viewers feel as though they are floating through space. The audience can learn more about the process of the creation of this work by watching a video.
His work has been exhibited at Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, and MOCA Taipei, Taipei, among others.
4. Irene Chou
The late Hong Kong artist Irene Chou passed away in 2011. Before moving to Hong Kong from Shanghai, she had been part of the modern ink movement led by Lui Shou-kwan. Movement II was created in the 1980s. Her art combines Taoist and Zen philosophies with Abstract Expressionism, and is laden with emotions as seen by the motion, colour and composition within her oeuvre.
Her work has been shown at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, National Art Gallery, Manila, and Royal Academy of Arts, London, among others.
5. Wucius Wong
Hong Kong’s Wucius Wong (b.1936) incorporates modern elements into his abstract paintings. Having studied with Lui Shou-Kwan, his art incorporates geometric shapes as symbols of modern ink painting. Thoughts Across the Lands was created when the artist was in New York. Using ink and acrylic, this work embodies the fusion of East and West. His work has been widely exhibited, including at Guggenheim Museum, New York, Shanghai Art Museum and Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei.
“Weight of Lightness: Ink Art from M+” is on view from 13 October 2017 to 14 January 2018 at M+ Pavilion, West Kowloon Cultural District, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.
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