Learn from Masters is a Collateral Event of the 56th Venice Biennale organised by Pan Tianshou Foundation and curated by Yang Jie that focuses on ink art from China. Its title in the Chinese version, “气韵非师”, is a quote from “Experiences in Painting: An Eleventh Century Art History of Chinese Painting” by Kuo Jo-Hsu, connoisseur, art historian, and critic from the Song Dynasty (1021-1100 B.C.). It means “everything but Spirit-resonance (Qi Yun) can hardly be mastered by learning”. It indicates the Spirit-resonance as the highest realm of art, and has to be achieved via individual’s mind practice towards the joint personality ideal shared among Literati community, rather than seeking knowledge from Master, that is, the most respected art can hardly be achieved by learning. Chinese ink painting has created brilliant history independently of its own evolvement bringing a variety of visual art resources in completely different contexts from Western ones, which allows us to appreciate a different kind of great epics of art so unique in either its form, style or spiritual claim. As biodiversity is necessary for ecological equilibrium in nature, the diversity and varieties in human civilization also require comparative independence between different cultures, to keep each other’s uniqueness, as potential and profound resources for the benign evolvement in future world.
The exhibition presents six masters from ancient time to today in each of their own “restored” study, where original pieces are presented together with videos. Visitors present themselves in each of these studies to experience historical changes and the contributions made by these masters, while positioning themselves also in d’écart via the dialogue between the living artist Pan Gongkai with the five ancient masters: Gu Kaizhi, Fan Kuan, Ni Zan, Zhu Da, Wu -Changshuo. With the assistance of d’écart, visitors may develop some reflection on the change and unchanged in the two-thousand year long history of Chinese painting, as well as the dimension of spirit valued in Chinese painting tradition which indicated by Learn from Masters, or “Spirit-resonance cannot be mastered by learning”, to further explore the core value of ink painting’s Spiritual Dimension and reflect its potential inspiration to Global Contemporary Art.
Palazzo Bembo, Palazzo Bembo, San Marco, 4793 (Riva del Carbon)