Between Ink and Water— Contemporary Ink Paintings from China, at Royal College of Art August 20th-24th, 2014 London

Between Ink & Water – two simple liquids, one clear, one dark, prosaic and perfunctory yet combined they form the most distinctive medium. Channelled together, Chinese ink painting was created a millennium ago and forged an unprecedented art heritage and aesthetic. Since the late 19th and early 20th century, Western cultural and artistic influences have dominated and ink painting on paper has faded from view. However, today, thanks to the efforts of a group of contemporary Chinese artists the age-old medium of ink painting has been re-imagined and reinvented and is once again being revered. It has shed the rigidity of history and now addresses modernism through a prism of current artistic language and traditional, ancient models. ‘Between Ink and Water’ exhibition presents 29 works ranging from delicate fine-brush bird-and-flower paintings in brilliant colours, freehand style landscapes paintings with stunning visions of nature and figures & life scenes in calligraphy and caricature, to mixed-style paintings with the expression of Zenism and the equilibrium of peaceful mind. These beautiful and inspiring pieces by the five established Chinese artists, Chang Jin (常进), Shen Qin (沈勤), Wu Xiangyun (吴湘云), Zhang Zhengmin (张正民) and Zhu Jianzhong (朱建忠), showcase the vitality and visual power of contemporary Chinese ink painting.

VIP Private View and Panel Discussion: 19th August, 2014 (18.30-21.30)
Exhibition date and time: August 20th-24th, 2014 10.00-18.00
Venue: Entrance Gallery at Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU

Along with the opening, you are also invited to the Panel Discussion: Rethinking Ink in Chinese Contemporary Art. Panelists will include Katie Hill, a leading scholar on the subject of Contemporary Chinese art, Qu Leilei, a well-respected Chinese artist in the West, and two artists featured in the exhibition, Wu Xiangyun and Zhu Jianzhong.

6.30pm VIP private view starts
7.00pm Opening remarks
7.15pm to 8.00pm Panel discussion: Rethinking Ink in Chinese Contemporary Art
8.00pm onwards Networking and reception with drinks and canapés

R.S.V.P. via

Panel Discussion: Rethinking Ink in Contemporary Chinese Art
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Ink Art exhibition to Sotheby’s selling exhibition in New York and Christie’s in Hong Kong and mainland, the art of Chinese ink painting has made a comeback in the contemporary form. However, the unique style and medium are seen to be at odds with the values of contemporary art practices, either too old-fashioned or too Chinese to be relevant.
How can we understand the contemporary spirit through such a traditional form?
Is contemporary ink today still dominantly owned by Chinese, or is it now an international medium?
How can Chinese contemporary ink painting respond to the trend of globalization in contemporary art world?
How has traditional Chinese ink painting contributed to the international contemporary art practices?

About Panelists
Panelists will include Katie Hill, a leading scholar on the subject of Contemporary Chinese art, Qu Leilei, a well-recognized Chinese artist in the west, and the two artists featured in the exhibition, Wu Xiangyun and Zhu Jianzhong.

Dr. Katie Hill is director of the Office of Contemporary Chinese Art, an art consultancy promoting Chinese artists in the UK. She leads the Asian Art semester course at Sotheby’s Institute of Art- London. Dr. Katie Hill has extensive experience in the field of contemporary Chinese art, with a degree in Chinese from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in art history from the University of Sussex. She is a regularly invited speaker for exhibitions and events in numerous institutions and galleries. Her recent work includes ‘In Conversation’ with Ai Weiwei, Tate Modern; selector panel/author, Art of Change, New Directions from China, Hayward Gallery, London and specialist advisor/author for The Chinese Art Book (Phaidon, 2013). She also co-edited a special issue of the journal Visual Art Practice on Contemporary Chinese Art and Criticality, published in 2012.

Qu LeiLei is a Chinese contemporary artist who holds an important place in art history and is well-respected by his contemporary ink paintings in the West. He started his career as a founding member of the famous avant-garde ‘Stars Group’ in China, which stood as an important symbol of the launch of Chinese contemporary art. Since 1979, his art has been shown in many significant exhibitions in China and around the world. Among these he has also had solo shows at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in 2005 and China National Art Museum in 2011. His works have been collected by Victoria & Albert Museum, The Ashmolean Museum, Japan Modern Art Museum, China National Art Museum, and many eminent collectors including HRH The Prince of Wales. As a visiting tutor, he lectures in traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy as well as Chinese contemporary art at The British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, The Royal Academy. Due to his continuous achievements, he was elected Chairman of UK’s Chinese Brush Painting Society in 1999.

Wu Xiangyun is one of the five artists featured in the exhibition. She graduated from Nanjing University of the Arts. Working as professional artist at Nanjing Calligraphy and Chinese Painting Institute, she is a member of Jiangsu Artists Association and member of Jiangsu bird-and-flower Painting Research Institute. Wu’s works have been published in art journals including Fine Art, Jiangsu Art Monthly, Art Observation and Study of Chinese Painting. Bird-and-flower painting is a kind of Chinese painting named after its subject matter. It is also a scholar-artist style of Chinese painting. Wu Xiangyun’s painting deconstructs the notion of this subject by subverting the ordinary composition of bird-and-flower painting. Wu transforms her work through a surreal modes of expression, creates a theatric and fairytale scene in her painting. Wu’s contemporary bird-and-flower paintings have been exhibited solely in Japan, US, Beijing, Taipei and Nanjing.

Zhu Jianzhong (also known as Zhu Zhengde and Zhu Dade) is one of the five artists featured in the exhibition. He graduated from Nanjing University of the Arts. Zhu is a member of Chinese Artists Association and an artist of National Grade I (first class), working for Nantong Calligraphy and Chinese Painting Research Institute, Jiangsu. His main achievements include Gold Medal of ‘Chinese Four Seasons’ Art Exhibition, Outstanding Prize of ‘Demeanor of Contemporary Time’ Sketching Art Competition, Gold Medal of the Inaugural Jiangsu Provincial Fine Art Festival, Nomination for the 11th National Art Exhibition, and Gold Medal in ‘Jinling One Hundred Artists’ Exhibition in 2009. Zhu’s paintings are inspirited by oriental wisdom. Blending Zen spirit into ink and water, Zhu’s landscape paintings reflect the traditional Chinese literati paintings and also integrate the artist’s understanding of symbolism, symmetry and minimalism of western art.

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