Does Ink and Wash Have an Original Shape?
If ink just refers to a media, then it is nothing more than a kind of material for modeling, which is equivalent to propylene in oil painting. However, the ancient saying “Sub-colored ink” obviously exceeds black and hopes ink is a spiritualized thing. Nowadays, with various western pigments flooding the market, are there still possibilities of “Sub-colored ink”? Is this a question about the skill or about the state?
If we can say ink and wash is a special sort of painting with a history of more than two thousand years, then it is bound to keep its defined quality of “lively spirit and charm style” from the very beginning. But the quality is not inherent or bestowed on painters when they start painting. Nevertheless, ignoring “lively spirit and charm style ” will be a disaster for the art of ink and wash. Each era needs artists and works who re-explain “lively spirit and charm style “, so what kinds of new explanations can we offer nowadays?
If ink is a direct expression of individual emotions, then the moral state of “expressing feelings from the heart” is a basic requirement of the moral realm. “Jie Yi Pan Bo” (Chinese 解衣盤礴) which means the spirit of concentrating on painting by the painters of the Spring and Autumn period in China and “Dipping Ink with Hair” of Painters in the Tang Dynasty, like Zhang Xu’s highly cursive script, all are representations of a mental status and the “expressions” of ink and wash. So what is the ink expression of modern painters? Or do we still have ink expressions? Ink comes from the same root as the so-called “A Great Shape is Immaterial.” But, the “image” of ink and wash is not “symbolism”, symbolism refers to the meaning of the “other” generated from the addition of contents and forms or the combination of signifier and signified. In “symbolism”, the image isn’t itself, however, the image of ink and wash is itself. Although there are “Fu, Bi and Xing” (Chinese, 赋比兴)in Chinese literary theory, some people may think that “Bi”, as a comparison, means symbolism. It’s wrong! “Bi” implies a metaphor between objects for which one is equal with the other that it is likened to, whereas in “symbolism”, there is a difference of level between the image and the symbolized object. Like the “reason, consciousness and emotion” of painting, the relationship among “”Fu, Bi and Xing” is mutually transformed and fitted, rather than the absolute separation among abstractionism, conceptualism and realism in western art for which symbolism is an important way of representation in the relationship of separation or subject-object.
Therefore, does ink need conception? What kinds of conception do creations in ink need? The answer is, if conception is brought in, it must not be separated from the essence of ink. Or, no matter what kinds of conception it is, it should match with the ink itself otherwise it’s just an imitation of conceptual art. If we force ink to present conceptions serving for the “other” (whether social or aesthetic), why don’t we use propylene instead of ink and rice paper?
If ink and wash is a kind of culture, then it consists of a kind of ritual together with water, ink, writing brush, rice paper, seals, console table, study room and even the painting scenario of painters. The ritual is not only spatial and physical, it is also not only limited to the small console table or room with dozens of square meters, but runs through everything in the artist’s daily-life. Maybe the ritual integrates behaviour, objects and space-time, thus to transcend the boundary of the material media of ink. Ink is a kind of poetic culture of “investigating things to extend knowledge”, a kind of self-improved culture, a kind of cultural valued conscience. Especially for now, in the dirty world, please let ink and wash clean my name!
When the ritual finds a reliable style which belongs to the painter as well as the ability to be shared with others, the ink finds its own “original shape”, or to be precise, the Prototypes, which are called paradigm in western theory. Chinese Contemporary Ink calls out this era’s paradigm, looking forward to the real individual creative “original shape” of ink. Time and tide wait for no man, so that people with lofty ideals are in the hope of mutual encouragement!
“Original Shapes of Ink and Wash” will explore these questions, look into the prospects of art and some development directions of the 21st century and conduct a comprehensive combing of the development of Chinese ink art from the 20th century. The exhibition will especially focus on the current situation of Chinese Contemporary ink and wash, particularly, the personal achievement issues rather than critics of the traditional ones. Some artists who have spent many years in the exploration of ink and made contributions will be invited to the exhibition. The participating artists have their personal opinions not only in practical creations but also in theories. Therefore, we intend to promote the discussions of related topics through the exhibition and related academic activities while conducting a coming of the creation in the history of China’s generations of artists of ink art.
Sanchuan Modern Art Museum, Nanjing is one of the few non-profit private art galleries in China, committed to the creation and revival of Chinese culture and art of the 21st century. Since ancient times, Nanjing has been a place full of litteratii, a smart land with outstanding people and is the cradle of Chinese literati culture as well as an important base of Chinese contemporary art. Therefore, it is no doubt that a themed exhibition here is the best choice with favorable climatic, geographical and human conditions.
Artists: (the first round) (Artist Names Listed by Age)
Li Huasheng, Pan Gongkai, Qiu Zhenzhong, Xu Bing, Gu Wenda, Guo Zhen, Wang Huangsheng, Yang Zhilin, Deng Guoyuan, ZhangYu, Zhang Hao, Xu Lei, Huang Bingyi
Producer: Guo Xu
Art Director: Liu Jing
Curator: Gao Minglu
Sponsor: Sanchuan Modern Art Museum, Nanjing
Co-organizer: Gao Minglu Art Research Center of Modern and Contemporary Art
Opening: 3:00pm October 27th, 2012(Saturday)
Duration: October 27th, 2012 to November 30th, 2012
Venue: Sanchuan Modern Art Museum, Nanjing