HONG KONG - Christie's presenting its first Chinese contemporary ink exhibition titled Beyond Tradition from November 22 to 27, 2012 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The exhibition features 18 works by leading artists in the field, including Liu Guosong, Li Huayi, Liu Dan, Gu Wenda, Xu Bing, Yang Jiechang, and Qiu Zhijie. This exhibition aims to examine this traditional medium through a modern lens and presents works that reinterpret the ink painting tradition and innovate in terms of technique, presentation and subject matter. By showcasing this particular group of artists, Christie’s introduces the new face of Chinese ink painting. The aim is to engage audiences in a dialogue on the ways in which works of art in a traditional medium can be innovative and be translated into the language of global contemporary art. This exhibition in Hong Kong will be followed by a series of Chinese contemporary ink private-sale exhibitions in 2013, starting with New York in March and Hong Kong in May.
For over a thousand years, the Chinese ink painting medium has been central to the development of China’s art history. Using brush, ink and paper, artists perfected their skills and depicted their universe, successfully intertwining the ink tradition and the unique aesthetics of Chinese art. Ink paintings, like all works of art, are a product of their society, embodying and creating viewpoints, provocations, and new horizons.
After a century of transformation that included great political, economic and cultural change, China is actively re-defining its identity and direction. When China opened its door to the world in the late 1970s, the course of its contemporary art trajectory also changed. Some artists quickly adopted once discarded Western techniques, but those who remained in the ink tradition found new ways to challenge the past and revive tradition. The artists represented in this exhibition were trained in traditional Chinese painting and most received education after China opened its door to the world in 1979. The artists were introduced to a variety of Western styles and techniques but decided upon the contemporary ink medium as their mode of expression.
Ben Kong, International Specialist Head of Chinese Paintings at Christie’s Hong Kong, commented: “In response to the rising interest and global demand, we are expanding what the department offers to include a comprehensive timeline of work, from the classical and modern to the contemporary. As we grow, we also continue to innovate and this season, Christie’s will present the works of seven artists who breathe new life into the traditional ink painting medium. This exhibition will introduce contemporary ink painting and build towards the development of an individual sales category at Christie’s. Contemporary ink painting has already received considerable interest in Europe and America, and is poised for success in Asia. During our autumn sales week, we will also feature a panel discussion examining the evolution of this dynamic category.”
LIU GUOSONG (B. 1932)
Liu Guosong graduated from the Fine Arts Department of National Taiwan Normal University, where he studied traditional brush-and-ink and Western painting techniques. Encouraged by Liao Chi-Chun, Liu founded the “Fifth Moon Group” in 1956 to promote contemporary art in Taiwan. After experimentation with oil paintings, Liu switched to ink as his primary medium in 1961. In 1966 Liu became the first Taiwanese artist to be awarded a travel fund by the John D. Rockefeller III Foundation, enabling him to travel around the world and exhibit throughout the United States. He taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1971 until 1992. Liu also taught at the University of Iowa in 1975 and was a visiting artist at the Iowa Illinois Art Critics Association in 1980. Liu subsequently moved back to Taiwan in 1992 to teach at the Donghai University in Taichung. In 1996, he became the head of the Fine Arts Research Institute at the Tainan National University of the Arts until his retirement in 1999. Liu currently resides in Taipei.
Liu has participated in over a hundred solo exhibitions internationally to date, and has been featured in the Palace Museum, Beijing, Shanghai Museum of Art, Guangdong Art Museum (2007), National Art Museum, Beijing (2011), and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (2012). He has also been included in a number of major group exhibitions at venues such as Yale University Gallery (1974) and the Guggenheim Museum, in both New York and Bilbao (1998). His paintings are in the collection of major museums and galleries, including the British Museum, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Peabody Essex Museum, Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst, Berlin, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University.
YANG JIECHANG (B. 1956)
Yang Jiechang graduated from the Chinese Paintings Department at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1982. He spent time studying Taoism under the Taoist master Huangtao, and this experience has profound influence on his work. Yang’s first international recognition came with his participation in the exhibition, "Les Magiciens de la Terre" at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and “China Avant-Garde” in National Gallery, Beijing. Over the years Yang has been featured in many prestigious venues and large-scale international exhibitions, including Museum for Modern Art, Oxford (1993), Heidelberger Kunstverein (1996), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005), Shanghai Biennial (1998, 2012), Gwangju Biennial, Korea (2002), Venice Biennial (2003), Guangzhou Triennial (2003, 2005), Paris Triennial (2006), Liverpool Biennial (2006), and Istanbul Biennial (2007). Yang moved to France in 1988 and now lives and works between Paris, France and Heidelberg, Germany.
Yang Jiechang is proud to be Cantonese, and he is not shy about expressing this sentiment. Yang’s art work has transitioned from the abstract to being grounded in social critique over the last twenty years. His recent works such as the series Stranger than Paradise are bold, expressive and provocative. They confirm Yang’s foundation in classical Chinese ink painting as well as his views towards contemporary society.
GU WENDA (B. 1955)
Gu Wenda is among the most high-profile Chinese artists living abroad. He was one of the leading figures of the New Wave Art Movement, and graduated from the Shanghai School of Arts in 1976. In 1981, Gu received his M.F.A. from the China Academy of Arts, where he studied under the classical landscape painting master Lu Yanshao. He moved to the U.S. in 1987. Gu’s works are conceptual, creating pseudo- characters that are indecipherable and explore the power of the written word. His works have been exhibited extensively, notably at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, and most recently in July 2012 in “Ink: The Art of China” at the Saatchi Gallery, London. He lives and works in New York City.
LI HUAYI (B. 1948)
Li Huayi is a native of Shanghai. As a child, Li was attracted to Chinese painting and calligraphy and studied with Wang Jimei, the son of Wang Zhen. Later he learned from Shanghai school painter Zhang Chongren, who had received Western artistic training. In 1982, Li left China for San Francisco, where he enrolled in the San Francisco Academy of Art University and obtained a Master’s degree in 1984. Li took a deep interest in Buddhism, which is intricately related to the development of classical Chinese art. His subject matter is primarily landscape, with a style reminiscent of classical masterpieces from the Northern Song period. His works embody the spirit of the classical painting tradition, while thoroughly modernizing its methods. Li’s works have been exhibited in the Beijing Centre for the Arts (2011), Museum of Fine Art, Boston (2010), and the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena (1984).
Li Huayi’s landscape strikes viewers with its intricate details of trees and rocks set against an expressive splashed ink background. He is clearly inspired by traditional Chinese landscape paintings, but continuously modernizes his style through influences such as splashed ink and abstract expressionism. His works contrast gongbi and xieyi within the same composition, embodying the elegance and subtlety of classical Chinese ink paintings with a splurge of light, space and energy rarely seen in the genre.
LIU DAN (B. 1953)
Liu Dan received training in traditional Chinese paintings at the Jiangsu Academy of Chinese Paintings, Hangzhou under renowned artist Ya Ming. In 1981, he moved to the United States and has since lived in Hawaii and New York, where he studied Western art. Liu’s background in classics, poetry, painting and calligraphy was fostered early on as a child under the guidance of his grandfather. Liu Dan has exhibited extensively around the world; recent notable exhibitions include “Fresh Ink: Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition for the Museum of Fine Arts” at the Boston Museum of Fine Art (2011), “Chinese Ink Paintings” at the British Museum (2012), and “Rochers de lettrés, itinéraires de l'art en Chine Musée Guimet, Paris (2012). Liu Dan moved back to China in 2006 and now resides in Beijing.
XU BING (B. 1955)
Xu Bing entered the Printmaking Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, in 1977. He eventually began to teach and acquired his Master of Fine Arts there. In 1989 he participated in the seminal Chinese contemporary art exhibition “China Avant-Garde” at the National Gallery, Beijing. A year later, Xu became an honorary fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moved to the United States. Starting in 1993, the year in which Xu moved back to Beijing, he began to exhibit widely throughout the world and gained international prominence as an artist and educator.
Xu Bing’s works have been shown in many prestigious international museums and art exhibitions from the early 1990s on, including the 45th Venice Biennale (1993), Johannesburg and Kwangju Biennials (1997), Ludwig and Bonn Museums of Art, Germany, the Museum of Modern Art , New York (1999), Sydney Biennial (2000), Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution (2001), Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Germany (2004), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2007), Expo 2010, Shanghai (2010). Xu Bing has also been awarded by many institutions for his contribution to the arts, including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (1998), the MacArthur Genius Grant (1999), 14th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize (2003), Coca-Cola Fellowship (2004). Since 2007, Xu became the Vice President of his alma-mater Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.
QIU ZHIJIE (B. 1969)
Qiu Zhijie graduated from the Printmaking Department of the National Academy of Fine Art in 1992. Versatile in photography, video and ink paintings, Qiu Zhijie has participated in a number of exhibitions and venues throughout the world, including the Guangdong Art Museum (2010, 1993), the Venice Biennale (2009), the 4th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (2009), Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art (2005), Shanghai Biennale (2004), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2003), and Hong Kong City Hall (1993). Qiu’s works have been collected by both regional and international museums, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, National Gallery of Scotland, and the Ullens Foundation. His works have been collected by French fashion houses, such as Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. Apart from creating art, Qiu dedicates a significant amount of his time to writing about art. He also has experience in curatorial work and was the curator for the 2012 Shanghai Biennial.