The contemporary ink art discourse trends towards two principal questions: What is ink art? And is it defined solely by medium and/or philosophy? In answer to these questions Alisan Fine Arts presents Is It Ink Art? showcasing new works by Liu Jian (b. 1961) and Zhang Yu (b. 1959), which will leave viewers questioning whether the artworks on display constitute the emergence of a new ink form, or a rupture with ink art’s hollow traditions.
Liu Jian’s latest works embrace traditional painting techniques, especially in his emphasis of lines and the freedom of his brushstrokes. However, though his works preserve the essence of traditional Chinese painting, he diverges from the standard method of recalling past tropes or mimicking canonical works.
In contrast to Liu Jian, Zhang Yu’s new installation work moves beyond the boundaries of ink painting’s traditional media, and ponders the conceptual framework and ink painting’s philosophical underpinnings. On a piece of xuan paper, the artist has placed rows of porcelain bowls, periodically filling them with pu’er tea. As the bowls overflow the paper becomes stained, and eventually dries leaving behind a brownish-black wash of colour. The work is a performance, time and process piece, changing depending on fleeting moments of time. In the process the work questions the permanence of the water itself, and in a further step, the permanence of the work in its ‘original’ and ‘final’ stages.
- Liu Jian, Dreamscape, 2015