Inking a new perspective

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-17 20:08:02

The '85 New Wave period of Chinese art history has been widely seen as the birth of Chinese contemporary art, during which artists working with different materials broke free from the shackles of socialist realism that prevailed since 1949 and referred to modern Western artistic ideas to refresh China's art scene.

Innovative changes in China's age-old ink art began during The Republic of China (1912-49) with representatives such as Xu Beihong and Lin Fengmian, and also underwent further change in the 1980s. But it still didn't receive as much attention as other art forms.

Seeking to redress this unfortunate oversight, Shanghai Himalayas Museum has managed to gather some 180 ink art pieces from the 1980s to give an overall view of the form's progression during the decade.

An ink painting on display at the ongoing group exhibition at Shanghai Himalayas Museum Photo: Courtesy of the museum

"In order to understand modern ink art, it is necessary for us to look to the 1980s, which is now seen as the most significant period in terms of revolution and experimentation in contemporary ink art," said Zhang Pingjie, curator of the ongoing exhibition entitled A Fragment in the Course of Time: Landscape of Chinese Ink Art in 1980s.

The exhibition is divided into two sections: one includes works produced from 1979 to 1984 featuring artists such as Qiu Deshu, Chen Juyuan, Li Jin and Yu Youhan; the other highlights works from 1985 to 1989 and includes works by Gu Wenda, Qin Feng, Yang Jiecang and Hu Xiangcheng.

The period before 1984 and the '85 New Wave had already witnessed a number of artists experimenting in ink and taking inspiration from abstract painting, according to Zhang. Thanks to art publications like Fine Arts in China, established in 1985, and Meishu Sichao, founded in 1984, more young artists were exposed to experimental ink art. This widened the number of participants in the exploration, and saw ink works that played with elements of the human body and landscapes, as well as abstraction.

"Ink art enjoyed the highest status in traditional Chinese art, as most of its leading practitioners were men of letters with a high social ranking. But in the contemporary art scene, ink art is on an equal standing to other forms," Liu Xiaochun, the former editor-in-chief of Fine Arts in China, which ceased publishing in 1989, told the Global Times.

Shanghai-based art critic Zhu Qi said the exhibition is a good opportunity to meet with the artists and see the works that were once neglected by the public.

"I discovered many pieces that I didn't know of before, and with whose help I can more objectively look at the history of that period," said Zhu.

Date: Until April 10, 10 am to 6 pm, admission stops at 5:30 pm (closed on Mondays)

Venue: 4/F, Shanghai Himalayas Museum 上海喜玛拉雅美术馆4楼

Address: 869 Yinghua Road


Tickets: 30 yuan, 15 yuan for students

Call 5033-9801 for details

Posted in: Metro Shanghai

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