East Art Center is a private art museum from Beijing that has been devoted to the promotion and support of Chinese contemporary ink art since 2010. This museum will present a curated exhibition, The Mood of Ink, in LAAS in January.
The Mood of Ink will feature a group of emerging and established Chinese artists, focusing on the abstract expression of the ink art. It will include the artist Bian Hong’s series of her New Abstract Calligraphy, Chen Honghan’s mixed medium, Fan Peng’s ink inspired by Chinese stone rubbings, and Li Hongzhi and Yuan Fuguo’s abstract ink paintings. Bian Hong, born in 1971 at He Bei, works and lives at Beijing and New York. She is both founder and pioneer of New Abstract Calligraphy in China. In China, calligraphy was regarded as the primary and highest form of art, even preceded painting. The brush becomes an extension of the writers’ arm, and thus his or her entire body. The artists’ stroke not only suggests the movement of the body, but also inner mind. It is about balance of control and energy, order and dynamism. Calligraphy has come to convey an essence of the individual artists. Bian Hong explores a space between traditional Chinese calligraphy and contemporary painting. The calligraphic brushstroke is used as an approach to abstract painting, focusing on the spontaneous gesture of the artist hand.
It is known that Abstract Expressionist Franz Kline was inspired by the Chinese calligraphy. Cross-cultural influence is vital, if not inevitable, in art throughout history. Bian Hong has likewise, been influenced by the New York School and Western abstract expressionism through her traditional calligraphy. Her works have been closely connected to the Chinese philosophy Dao. The technique looks minimalistic, but it passes attributed through the philosophies of traditional ink painting, embodying the inner power and connection of mind, body, and spirit.
“Bain maintains, and incorporates into her art, a high regard for contemporary art practice, Western as well as Asian. This means that her calligraphy can evolve into painting in the art shows to the public. Working in this manner enables the artist to balance the past with the present, so that the ancient practice of calligraphy is brought up to date, mainly by including visual tropes that belong more to artistic life now than to historical achievement. There has been a resurgence of Chinese ink art in China, and Bian Hong belongs to this renewal of an ancient art. In many ways, Chinese art is currently at a crossroads. For more than a generation now, its culture has been permeated with the knowledge of Western contemporary art. Bian Hong internalized Western abstraction by incorporating it into a style that can be both highly realistic in regard to nature and wonderfully abstract. There are paintings of hers that are simple masses of think lines, just at there are works that reference nature in a quiet, beautiful manner. It is the balance of the two kinds of vision that makes Bian Hong’s art so remarkable.” (by Critic Johnathan Goodman)