Second edition of INK ASIA art fair is reflective of the “ink turn” in contemporary art collecting practices.

INK ASIA 2016 is the first art fair to deal exclusively in contemporary artists who work with the medium of ink. Between 16 and 18 December, INK ASIA 2016 returns to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Ink Asia 2015 onsite. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

Ink Asia 2015 onsite. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

The “ink turn” and the digital era

The appearance of INK ASIA corresponds to increasing interest, on the part of collectors, auction houses and galleries in contemporary artists who work in the traditional medium of ink. The “ink turn” has also seen the emergence of auction categories dedicated to contemporary ink, such as Christie’s Hong Kong Contemporary Ink auction, which enjoyed sales of USD7,862,832 in its first edition in 2014.

A year later, and the first edition of INK ASIA in 2015 attracted approximately 10,000 visitors over the four days of the fair. One of the highlight paintings, “Snowy Mountain”, specially created for INK ASIA 2015 by Taiwanese artist Liu Kuo-sung (b. 1932), was sold within the first hour of the private preview for HKD10,000,000. Some have suggested that it is the traditional medium’s ability to communicate notions of “digitisation” in terms of flattening visual information to the same code – that may lay behind the growing contemporary appeal of ink.

Onsite Ink Asia. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

Shen Aiqi, ‘Journey Through Water and Ink’, 2013-2015. Installation onsite Ink Asia 2015. Image courtesy Ink Asia.


In 2016 INK ASIA has attracted 50 art galleries and organisations from ten countries and cities. New section “HIGHLIGHT” will feature 12 leading art galleries, which are proactively promoting ink art, six of which are making their debut at INK ASIA in 2016: Pearl Lam Galleries (Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore), My Humble House (Taipei), Xi Zhi Tang (Taipei), Ink Studio (Beijing), Kwai Fung Hin (Hong Kong) and Galerie Ora-Ora (Hong Kong).

Installation. INK ASIA. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

Xing Gang, ‘N Dimensions: Infinite Space’, 2013-2015. Metal plates, felted wool, custom made ink. Installation onsite Ink Asia 2015. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

The “SPOTLIGHT” section (also new in 2016) sees an opportunity for six selected galleries to hold solo exhibitions of their chosen artists. This section also includes four new exhibitors: Lucie Chang Fine Arts (Hong Kong), Hong Kong Modern Ink Painting Society (Hong Kong), Cawah Arts Gallery (Hong Kong), Studio Pryde (Hong Kong), Fei Gallery (Guangzhou) and Fan Art (Hong Kong).

INK ASIA 2016 will also present “Contemporary Ink Installations”, featuring large artworks selected from galleries’ proposals that will be exhibited in public areas of the fair.

Art Radar previews 5 must-see galleries.

Qiu Deshu, 'Fissuring', 2015. Acrylic on Xuan paper and canvas. 122 x 122 cm. Pearl Lam Galleries. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

Qiu Deshu, ‘Fissuring’, 2015. Acrylic on Xuan paper and canvas. 122 x 122 cm. Pearl Lam Galleries. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

1. Pearl Lam Galleries – Qiu Deshu

Founded by Hong Kong collector and dealer Pearl Lam, Pearl Lam Galleries have a base in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. At Ink Asia they are showing the work of Qiu Deshu. Trained in the classical style of Chinese painting, Qiu Deshu fuses tradition with more recent innovations such as synthetic polymer paint. After working in factories and making propagandist paintings during the Cultural Revolution, Qiu began pushing the limits of his formal training, experimenting and playing with ideas he saw in art historical texts that were then newly allowed in China. He began to use fissuring as a principle technique – working by tearing, rubbing and carving Xuan paper as well as painting with acrylics. With this method, Qiu broke from the centuries-old style of Chinese painting in which ink was the determining condition of the composition.

Liu-Guosong, 'The-Sun-No.-81', 2015. Ink-and-colour-on-paper. 84 x 78 cm 2015.

Liu-Guosong, ‘The-Sun-No.-81’, 2015. Ink-and-colour-on-paper. 84 x 78 cm 2015.

2. Hanart TZ – Liu Guosong

Hong Kong-based Hanart TZ is showcasing Liu Guosong at INK ASIA, a Chinese artist based in Shanghai and Taoyuan, Taiwan. Liu is widely regarded as one of the earliest and most important advocates and practitioners of modernist Chinese painting. He is also a writer on contemporary Chinese art. As one of the co-founders of the Taiwan’s Wuyue Huahui 五月畫會 (Fifth Moon Group) in 1957, Liu Guosong sought a new approach to art, which was inspired by both traditional Chinese painting – especially the monumental landscape painting style of the Northern Song period (960–1126) and the xieyi 寫意 style of the Southern Song period (1129–1279) – as well as modern styles and techniques, such as Abstract Expressionism. Before turning to ink painting in 1961, Liu experimented with abstract oil painting. By the mid-1960s, Liu gradually developed his own personal pictorial formulae, in which he combines ink painting with collage and applies ink and colour on special paper.

Eddie Lui, 'Purple Lotus', 1990. Ink and gouache on paper. 61 x 86 cm. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

Eddie Lui, ‘Purple Lotus’, 1990. Ink and gouache on paper. 61 x 86 cm. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

3. Lucie Chang Fine Arts – Eddie Lui

Lucie Chang Fine Arts was established in 2011 in Sheung Wan and supports contemporary artists who work in classic Chinese styles. Participating in INK ASIA for the first time, the gallery was selected to hold a solo exhibition of the work of Eddie Lui. One of the most active art figures in Hong Kong who is now serving as the Secretary General of the Asian Watercolour Confederation and the Hong Kong Committee Director of the Federation of Asian Artists, Eddie Lui is also a master painter and three-dimensional designer. His signature style, which can be seen in some of the paintings that will be displayed at INK ASIA, derive from the concept of birth and rebirth. Lui is also fascinated with natural objects. Studies of plants and vegetable appear frequently in his works.

Yuan Jai, 'Stone Garden Lost II', 2009. Ink and colour on silk. 152 x 74 cm. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

Yuan Jai, ‘Stone Garden Lost II’, 2009. Ink and colour on silk. 152 x 74 cm. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

4. My Humble House – Yuan Jai

My Humble House is a prestigious antique dealer based in Taiwan, well-known amongst Chinese antique collectors internationally. At INK ASIA they will be showing the work of Chinese artist Yuan Jai how was educated in Taiwan and Belgium. Based on her rich knowledge of both Chinese and Western cultures, Yuan Jai is capable of appropriating elements of ancient paintings for her art. For example, Yuan Jai’s landscapes are often geometric echoing the frames of classical modernist avant-garde traditions such as Cubism. Her scenes also include surrealist elements, creating various incongruous scenes where realistic and fantastical combine in awkward and sometimes indulgent ways.

Shen Qin, 'Ink-Village 11.15', 2015. Ink on paper. Tetraptych 139 x 267 cm. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

Shen Qin, ‘Ink-Village 11.15’, 2015. Ink on paper. Tetraptych 139 x 267 cm. Image courtesy Ink Asia.

5. Amy Li Gallery – Shen Qin

Amy Li Gallery was founded in 2008 in Beijing. In 2013, the gallery relocated to the Caochangdi arts district, and continued to support and promote emerging contemporary artists often working in traditional forms such as drawing, printmaking and ink. At INK ASIA Amy Li Gallery is showing the work of Shen Qin. Born in Nanjing, China and graduating in 1981 from the Jiangsu Art Academy, Shen is known to be potentially one of the greatest contemporary painters working in Chinese colour and ink. The artist often uses more than one focal point to create an imbalance while introducing symbolic objects into his paintings. This not only gives profound meaning to his work but also leaves room for the viewer’s imagination to explore and expand. An oriental tone is presented in the transparency of colour and ink, yet while Shen’s work may reflect a traditional era, it crosses the boundary of Chinese painting into contemporary art.

Rebecca Close


Related Topics: Chinese artists, ink, painting, abstract art, gallery shows, events in Hong Kong

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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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