CHU CHU (B. 1975)
Whisper of Trees: Tutcheria; Whisper of Trees: Osmanthus Fragrans
A set of two scrolls, mounted and framed
Ink calligraphy on black and white photograph
Each measures 49.5 x 49.5 cm. (19 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.)
Executed between 2010-2017
Each photograph from Whisper of Trees series has 5 editions. The artist has inscribed calligraphy on the shadow of the tree branches hence each edition is unique.
A NEW GENERATION
The following fifteen ink paintings are presented together not because they share a uniform artistic style or subject matter, but because the artists behind these works are the emerging power of the category – young and born after 1970, they offer new ways of thinking about Chinese ink painting as a dynamic form of visual expression full of possibilities.
When Chinese contemporary ink first emerged as an independent artistic category, much focus was cast on the generation of artists directly impacted by the history and politics of China in the 1960s and 1970s. After China opened its door in 1979 many of these artists went to Europe and the United States, using ink and brush while embracing the art and philosophies from the West. The result has been a unique burst of creativity that sharply contrasts with 20th century ink painting that still dominates in Mainland China today. The thirteen artists featured here come from Mainland China and Hong Kong, with diverse backgrounds in terms of training and education that influence their career trajectories in different ways.
As the capital city, Beijing has historically attracted talented artists. Born in 1974, Peng Wei moved to Beijing in 2000 after graduating from Nankai University. Influenced by her artist father Peng Xiancheng, Peng Wei quickly found her own artistic vocabulary and established herself as one of the most significant ink artists of her generation. In her Beautiful Brocade series (Lots 843, 844), Peng reconnects with tradition by using antique brocade and silk embroidery, yet her contemporary interpretation allows her to build an ever-changing relationship with her own past. The Central Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most prestigious in China, also produces many distinguished young ink artists such as Tan Jun (Lot 857) and Guo Hui (Lot 853).
Gao Qian (Lot 847, 886), Shen Ning (Lot 854), and Zhou Xue (Lot 848) are part of the new fine brush (xin gong bi) movement active in Nanjing. The ancient capital has provided fertile ground for a generation of young artists who excelled in fine brush painterly skills but are also bold to incorporate contemporary elements. Zhu Xiaoqing (Lot 845), from Suzhou, offers a refined reworking of the landscape tradition.
Peng Jian (Lot 850), a native of Hunan, graduated from the ink painting department at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where he currently lives. Peng is fascinated by the grids and lines as an abstract division of space. In Limit No.3, Peng’s grid takes form of a meticulously painted mosquito net, offering an obstructed view of the city through the window. Zeng Guoqing (Lot 852), on the other hand, studied printmaking and incorporated this visual language in his ink painting of cityscapes.
Contemporary ink art is also about experimenting with media. Chu Chu (Lot 846) from Hangzhou is trained in multimedia, oil painting and calligraphy. A student of Wang Dongling, Chu combines cursive calligraphy and her black and white photography to form her imagery. Lin Guocheng (Lot 851), who studied at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Art, moved to Beijing and uses both a pen and ink brush to create complex, dreamlike landscapes. Inspired by early modern European sketches, Lin uses pen to draw lines that formulate his landscape. His lines emulate the texture of mountains, water and trees with lines swirling across the composition, as if the landscape is constantly growing in front of the viewers.
New ink art movements have been born in Hong Kong independent of that in Mainland China since the 1960s. Artists such as Eric Ho Kay-nam (Lot 856) studied fine art and design in Canada, and his works depict the cityscape of Hong Kong that Ho grew up in. Chui Pui Chee (Lot 855) is trained at the Chinese University of Hong Kong before furthering his study in calligraphy at the China Academy of Art. As the title of the painting suggests, his work humorously references the local contemporary culture, particularly Cantonese pop music in the early 1990s.