The Met’s ink-themed Chinese art show

On 22/12/2013 by Site Default

Ink Art is the Met’s first major Chinese contemporary art. The exhibition examines the creative output of a selection of artists from the 1980s to the present “who have fundamentally altered inherited Chinese tradition while maintaining an underlying identification with the expressive language of the culture’s past.”

Interestingly, Ink Art has not been overseen by Mike Hearn, the curator in charge of the Met’s Department of Asian Art, who is more used to dealing with ancient works rather than new ones.

As Hearn explains on the Met’s site, around 2006 that he began to examine Chinese contemporary works, and quickly discovered just how greatly they appealed to him.

“I realised that there were contemporary works of Chinese art that resonated with me,” he says, “but I wasn’t sure that they would have had the same effect on my colleagues in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art,” he goes on. “Prior to that time, I had always thought that modern and contemporary art was their responsibility, but this experience made me realise that there are fantastic contemporary Asian works that would resonate more meaningfully in our galleries than in a Western modern-and-contemporary gallery space.”

And while East Asian ink traditions inform all the works on show, thankfully Ink Art isn’t just all scrolls. There are 70 pieces on show in total, ranging from woodblock prints through to video and photographs by the likes of contemporary performance artists such as Zhang Huanand Song Dong. Nevertheless, ink and brush caligraphy works still feature. However, the curator believes that, even if you can’t read the words, you can still appreciate the art.

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