“Oil and Water: Reinterpreting Ink”


Contemporary Chinese ink art, once viewed in the West as an antiquarian pastime, is now the subject of intense debate. Is the form essential to preserving Chinese identity? Does it provide Western viewers an opportunity—or even create an obligation—to plumb the otherness of a foreign culture? Has the ink aesthetic been co-opted by the Party? The three veteran painters in this show seek a melding, a middle way. Qiu Deshu uses torn, ink-soaked paper strips to create dark “fissured” shapes that reflect social and psychological stresses. With larger appliqués and blocks of painted color, Wei Jia explores contrasting concepts of compositional space, East and West. Zhang Hongtu combines traditional Chinese motifs with once-radical modernist oil techniques to suggest the possibility of a global synthesis.