The first art fair dedicated to ink art launches in Hong Kong this December.

Art & Antique International Fair (AAIF), the organiser behind the widely acclaimed Fine Art Asia fair in Hong Kong since 2005, is set to unveil Ink Asia at the Convention and Exhibition Centre from 18 to 20 December 2015.

Liu Kuo-sung, 'Snowy Snowy Mountains', 2015, ink and colour on paper, 189.5 x 292 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Du Monde, Hong Kong.

Liu Kuo-sung, ‘Snowy Snowy Mountains’, 2015, ink and colour on paper, 189.5 x 292 cm. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong.

The brand new Ink Asia will feature over 40 leading galleries and institutions from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan in a wide-ranging showcase of ink-related works across the media of painting, photography, prints, porcelain, video art and installation.

The inaugural edition of the art fair will present the historical, current and future developments of ink art in all its cross-cultural and cross-medium diversity, serving as an important platform for dialogue on the contemporary relevance of the dynamic medium.

In particular, a core aim of Ink Asia 2015 will be to explore the myriad intersections between tradition and innovation in ink by showcasing the boundless experimentation that artists from Asia and beyond are engaging in with the traditional medium.

Calvin Hui, Director of Ink Asia 2015, is a renowned cultural entrepreneur in Hong Kong, who played a major role in establishing Fine Art Asia as a leading international art fair in the past five years. Hui is enthusiastic about the timely role Ink Asia will play in catalysing a deeper understanding of ink in contemporary art as the genre becomes increasingly prominent in China and Asia.

As Hui puts it,

Modern and contemporary ink art is an integration of tradition and innovation. Collectors and art lovers recognise that it is not just an art medium or skill, it also reflects the history, culture, tradition and lifestyle of the Chinese and Asian people. When collecting works of ink art, it is imperative to understand their historical background, and at the same time, to have a perspective on how contemporary ink art relates to our modern society. Within a contemporary context, the possibilities for ink art in the future are limitless.

Hung Fai , 'Splash XVIII', 2015, ink on paper, 180 x 97 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Hung Fai , ‘Splash XVIII’, 2015, ink on paper, 180 x 97 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Gallery Highlights

Participating galleries from Hong Kong include Galerie du Monde, Hanart TZ Gallery, Alisan Fine Arts, Grotto Fine Art, 3812 Gallery, Art Experience Gallery, Yan Gallery and Lucie Chang Fine Arts, while participating galleries from mainland China include Pékin Fine Arts, No. 55 Art Space, Huafu Art Space, Beautiful Asset Art Project, Taihe Art Space, and Peng Bao Xuan. Taiwanese galleries include Da Xiang Art Space, Lofty Art Gallery, Ming Shan Art, Capital Art Center, Ping Art and Piao Piao Gallery.

The fair will be structured around the five major pillars of “Modern Painting”, “Abstract Transformation”, “Emerging”, “Co-curation” and “Salon”, and will feature eight public installations.

Art Radar highlights the presentations by Galerie du Monde, Grotto Fine Arts, Hanart TZ Gallery and Lucie Chang Fine Arts, which show a diverse range of ink works by both renowned masters and emerging local artists. These gallery highlights show the artistic diversity in store at the inaugural Ink Asia fair. As Fair Director Hui says,

The fair not only provides a professional platform for collecting ink art but also… offers an opportunity for dealers and collectors to understand, explore and deepen their appreciation of ink art. It is my passion [to introduce] ink art as a crucial part of Asian civilisation, [to give] us an opportunity to gain a better understanding of [Asian] histories, cultures and traditions. Ink Asia 2015 is [going to be] a contemporary art fair with local character and international horizons.

Liu Kuo-sung, 'Clear Conclusion of Clearness', 1965, ink and colour on paper, 62.1 x 91.8 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Du Monde, Hong Kong.

Liu Kuo-sung, ‘Clear Conclusion of Clearness’, 1965, ink and colour on paper, 62.1 x 91.8 cm. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong.

1. Galerie du Monde

Galerie du Monde’s solo exhibition of Liu Kuo-Sung (b. 1932) will show works spanning 60 years of the master’s career. With his classical training in Chinese ink painting, Liu – the “father of modern ink” – began innovating with the medium in the 1950s by moving away from traditional techniques while keeping his artistic heritage alive in his compositions. His mesmerising works, with their characteristically vibrant applications of ink and colour, influenced generations of new ink painters after him.

Some exhibition highlights will include Clear Conclusion of Clearness (1965) from Liu’s family collection, a representative painting that showcases Liu’s experiments in the 1960s and 1970s with infusing powerful symbolism and abstraction into traditional shanshui. This masterpiece, with its bold swathes of blue and black against a white background that forego a representational depiction of nature’s grandeur, is considered a milestone in the development of modern ink painting.

Liu Kuo-sung, 'Symphony of Sun and Moon', 2015, ink and colour on paper, 220 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Du Monde, Hong Kong.

Liu Kuo-sung, ‘Symphony of Sun and Moon’, 2015, ink and colour on paper, 220 x 120 cm. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong.

Symphony of Sun and Moon and Snowy Snowy Mountains are new works from 2015. The first work, a geometric composition that blends traditional painting techniques with notions of abstraction, transcends earthly landscapes with its visually stunning imagination of outer space. The second work, a triptych, looks like a traditional snowy landscape at first glance. Tibetan mountains covered in snow – forms that can be found in many of Liu’s other paintings – are realistically depicted by the fine brushstrokes of traditional ink painting. At the same time, however, there is an illusory element to the interlocking landscape seemingly protruding into a snowy, rarified dimension that transcends observable nature.

Koon Wai-bong, 'Verdancy', 2015, ink on paper on board, 210 x 800 cm (96 panels). Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Koon Wai-bong, ‘Verdancy’, 2015, ink on paper on board, 210 x 800 cm (96 panels). Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

2. Grotto Fine Art

Grotto Fine Art will present Hong Kong artist Koon Wai-bong’s large-scale horizontal work Verdancy (2015) in the public area of the fair. Consisting of 96 panels put together, the work depicts a vast, dense pine forest – symbolizing longevity in Chinese culture – in various tones of dark green.

A Hong Kong-based ink artist, Koon is well-known for his polyptych ink paintings of landscapes that reflect on the tranquillity of nature through his artistic subjectivity. He comments on his work Verdancy thus:

Inspired by the distinctive aura [of] pine trees… I often… acknowledge the solace and tranquility that comes from imagining oneself sitting alone in the bowers of a pine forest, turning towards nature and, to an extent, towards oneself.

As to the practice of creating manifold panels that form a larger landscape, Koon explains that his inspiration comes from the way modern city dwellers experience the world visually – that is, often through the arbitrarily framed lenses of smartphones and digital cameras.

Chan Kwan-lok, 'Dark Illumination', 2015, ink and colour on paper, 26 x 18 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Chan Kwan-lok, ‘Dark Illumination’, 2015, ink and colour on paper, 26 x 18 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

The gallery’s main presentation will feature works by other Hong Kong ink artists, including Hung Fai and Chan Kwan-lok. Hung Fai experiments with ink and Western media on paper and canvas. His work Splash XVIII (2015) consists of reiterated vertical patterns in grey tones that recall flattened animal hide.

Chan Kwan-lok experiments with ink art through depicting the shape-shifting physical appearance of water. In Dark Illumination (2015), Chan depicts a traditional vertical Chinese landscape of mountain and water using dynamic lines. In two vertical strips, white dots of “illumination” rise up from the water below up towards the mountains, giving the visual composition a wholly contemporary compositional element that adds to the sublime cohesiveness of traditional shanshui paintings.

Shen Aiqi, 'Journey through Water and Ink' (rendering of installation concept), 2015, installation, 10 x 10 x 4 m. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Shen Aiqi, ‘Journey through Water and Ink’ (rendering of installation concept), 2015, installation, 10 x 10 x 4 m. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

3. Hanart TZ Gallery

Hanart TZ Gallery will present a solo exhibition of Chinese artist Shen Aiqi (b. 1941), who paints in a unique style grounded in his traditional artistic training. Deeply fascinated by the natural world, Shen often paints in the countryside, creating works that exude a majestic energy and life force. He expresses his “oneness” with nature through his dynamic representations of skies, earth, mountains and rivers.

At the centre of this presentation will be a 10 by 10 by 4 metres cubic painting installation titled Journey through Water and Ink, featuring numerous narrow, vertical panels on four sides that each make up a part of an expansive ink painting. Walking through the installation, audiences are immersed in a contemporary space literally framed by bold strokes of the traditional medium.

Shen Aiqi, 'Journey through Water and Ink' (rendering of installation concept), 2015, installation, 10 x 10 x 4 m. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

Shen Aiqi, ‘Journey through Water and Ink’ (rendering of installation concept), 2015, installation, 10 x 10 x 4 m. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

When opened up, the installation becomes a continuous composition depicting birds soaring between heaven and earth in energetic swarms. A cubic structure concealed at the centre by the panels consists of 100 small, enlivened paintings from Shen’s Bird series. Together, the large-scale and small-scale ink works in the installation are expected to transcend the natural world they depict to exude a larger-than-life energy.

A Hai, 'Sotting with rosy cheeks', 2015, ink and colour on paper, 132 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Lucie Chang Fine Arts, Hong Kong.

A Hai, ‘Sotting with Rosy Cheeks’, 2015, ink and colour on paper, 132 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Lucie Chang Fine Arts, Hong Kong.

4. Lucie Chang Fine Arts

Lucie Chang Fine Arts will present works by several Chinese artists, including A Hai (b. 1963) and Li Jun (b. 1958). A Hai’s works interlace contemporary compositional elements with the poetic iconography of traditional Chinese art such as cranes, peonies and monks in robes, often featuring lone figures against a bare background who are wandering among or staring at other elements hovering on the painting surface.

Although depicted traditionally, A Hai’s figures exude a sense of the solitude of modern individuals, as they are withheld the solace of companionship by the other elements on the painting surface. In Sotting with Rosy Cheeks (2015), for instance, a monk in a white robe stares wistfully at a large red flower that seems to be hovering rootlessly beyond his reach.

Li Jun, 'Seafood Feast', 2015, ink and colour on paper, 53 x 230 cm. Image courtesy Lucie Chang Fine Arts, Hong Kong.

Li Jun, ‘Seafood Feast’, 2015, ink and colour on paper, 53 x 230 cm. Image courtesy Lucie Chang Fine Arts, Hong Kong.

Li Jun, born and trained in Tianjin, is well-known as an unorthodox ink painter in the New Literati group who paints playful, seductive compositions with his mastery of patterns and colours. In contrast to the usual subject matters of traditional ink art, Li’s ink works depict food and wine as representative elements of the “good life”.

The painting Seafood Feast (2015) is a long horizontal work featuring enticing ink and colour illustrations of seafood dishes in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Filling all of the white space between the highly illusionistic depictions are words written in Chinese calligraphy in an endless passage about preparing and appreciating good food. This juxtaposition of images and texts as in a visual journal or sketchbook recalls the dynamics between painting and calligraphy in traditional Chinese landscapes but presents the genre in a thoroughly contemporary form.

Charlotte Chang

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Related Topics: Asian art, art fairs, ink art, classic / contemporary, market watch, events in Hong Kong

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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