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NY to see China’s art traditions updated

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NY to see China’s art traditions updated Calligraphy and ink painting are given ‘fashionable’ renditions

Two Chinese artists will soon present their experiments in ink at Asia Week in New York. Both elderly and young artists are giving the traditional art form contemporary and fashionable touches lately.
Calligrapher Qiu Zhenzhong and painter Shen Jinbo will show 32 pieces at Contemporary Art and Editions from March 25 to April 15. Titled “Formation & Movement”, the joint exhibition will focus on the beauty of ink paintings and the skills needed to make them.
Qiu, now in his 70s, will show his series “Statues” and “Shan Hai Jing Prequel”.
The first comprises paintings in which he sought to portray the different stages of a lily flower blossoming, while the second entails abstract pieces in ink inspired by the “Shan Hai Jing”, an ancient compilation of myths with many beasts and monsters.
Qiu says that, in creating these abstracts, the movement of the ink made him think of those monsters, and hence the series’ title.
Each stroke in Qiu’s work is clean and tight, much like his calligraphy, which he has practised since he was a teenager. He is a professor of calligraphy at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and has published many books on the subject. His long experience has helped him create abstract paintings that he says naturally form from his writing.
“Calligraphy is stereotyped as a very traditional art,” he says. “I’m glad that I can transform it into contemporary art.”
Shen, 39, will also display two series – “Pieces from the Seasons” and “World”. The first follows a narrative style of ink drawing and the second constitutes abstract paintings.
Unlike Qiu’s white-and-black canvases, Shen’s works take on lots of hues, a result of his training in oil painting when he was in college.
On his transition from oil to ink, Shen says the environment he grew up in played a big role. 
He was born in Gushi in Henan province, a town considered a cultural hub.
Calligraphy and ink painting came naturally to him, he says, because people around him had all practised the traditional arts. But when he entered college, oil appealed to him more, so he studied that for four years, only to later get back to ink painting.
His training in oil painting has helped his ink art though, he says. “I use different colours.”
Shen says he’s still young and his style is not yet fixed. His works going to New York seem to suggest that his painting style has changed from narrative to abstract. He’s not sure where he’ll go next, butthe experiments with ink will continue.
Compared to his counterparts, most of whom are oil painters, Shen says ink painters might “feel lonely” in the world of contemporary art. He cites a group show of contemporary artists in which he was the only ink painter. But he’s glad his experiments are helping the traditional art survive.
American art critic Jonathan Goodman writes in the show’s catalogue that both artists “push the boundaries of their art and bring new possibilities alive”.

Published : March 10, 2017

By : Deng Zhangyu China Daily Asia News Network