One of the shows that I had wanted to write about from my trip to the city last month was Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China at the Met. I generally never go to the Met and when I lived in NYC literally only went when I had guests in town. But since it was only like 5 degrees the entire time I was in NYC walking around Chelsea was just NOT an option so after I visited the Guggenheim I decided to walk around the MET (they are only a block from one another so less walking in the cold sounded like a very good idea.)
|Printing on Water, Song Dong|
I am so glad that circumstance pushed this to occur because as a result I ended up seeing Ink Art. The curator of this exhibit did an exceptional job showcasing contemporary artists working from or in homage to this ancient Chinese art form. In general the show had exciting interesting work all with a very contemporary voice but simultaneously deeply rooted in tradition.
The entire exhibit is wonderful but 2 pieces just blew me away. One being a large scale hyper detailed water color painting of a family Dictionary by Liu Dan.
The detail, labor and skill of this piece was nothing short of phenomenal. A seemingly insignificant object but actually a book of language and its meaning- therefore a profound statement on the power of language and perhaps the desire to be free with it.
The other work was a work that I am confident many people walk by with little attention paid, 0669 by Li Huesheng, it made me want to cry. The artist was a much more traditional ink painter for many years and is renowned in his native country but made an abrupt change to abstraction about 15 years ago. This piece consisted of 4 very long hanging scrolls with hand drawn grids. The scrolls were of a pretty normal width but hung from ceiling to floor in the gallery. They were simply put a hand drawn very tight grid.
But in reality so much more - they were the recording of ones breaths, thoughts, meditations and life. They are incredibly beautiful as you see both the devotion and dedication to the labor of the project and the technique while simultaneously seeing the waiver of ones hand, the movement of the human being behind the work. I literally looked at them for like a half hour and had to tear myself away The experience of these drawings cannot be relayed in words or images but only via the experience of standing in front of them and looking. They were nothing short of great art.
The show is up for another few months. Go see it.
You can see all the works in the show on the Mets website.