Yishu - Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art

Yishu Journal’s 10th Anniversary Year – the July/August 2011 Issue Now Available

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Editor’s Note:

While we have provided coverage of ink painting in past issues, Yishu 45 is the first time we have devoted a complete issue to the subject. Ink painting is centuries old, and possesses a complex and highly developed role within the history of Chinese art, but in recent years it has been situated in an often awkward position relative to contemporary art, especially contemporary art that is considered international in its appearance and intent.

There is, nevertheless, an ongoing interest in exploring this important genre as evidenced by events such as Asia Art Archive’s recent panel discussion, Is Ink Painting Dead? Is It Contemporary, at ART HK11, as well as a growing number of exhibitions featuring artists who, in some way, explore and even push the parameters of what ink painting should represent. There is a concerted effort by historians, curators, and critics not to let ink painting slip into the abyss of historical dinosaurs, but to encourage ways in which its practice can continue to contribute to contemporary art. The texts in Yishu 45 offer reflections on some of the issues that are now pertinent to the evolution of ink painting—its connection to history, its inherent link to landscape and nature, its increasing hybridity in an era of globalization, its contemporaneity, and experimentation through new techniques and materials. One aspect that arises in a number of the texts in Yishu 45 is the relationship between ink painting and abstraction, and, in particular, abstract expressionism. Another is a philosophical convergence between traditional Daoist philosophy that is grounded within the Chinese psyche and a Western existentialist philiosophy that was enthusiastically embraced by artists working in various disciplines during the 1980s; this is a provocative relationship that might be considered a case of unexpected affiliation rather than influence.

Our thanks are extended to the writers and authors who have contributed to this discussion and who understand the importance of respecting this legacy while nurturing it into the twenty-first century. Yishu is committed to keeping such discussions alive.

Keith Wallace

Image (top): Bomu, Jiazhi de tuoluo (Values Falling Down)[detail], 2009, silver gelatin emulsion and Chinese ink on canvas, neon, triptych, 210 x 443 cm (each panel). Courtesy of the artist.

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