What is Ink? An Investigation of the Implications and Extensions of Ink
City: Beijing
Curator: Wu Hong
Duration: 2017-09-27 ~ 2017-10-27
Opening: September 271,10:00 AM
Venue: Beijing East Art Center
Host(s): Songzhuang Artists CCP Branch、Songzhuang Art Promotion Association

Curatorial Assistant:Li Zhihong

Artists:BanXuejian、Bian Hong、Cheng Xiangyu、Fan Peng、Hang Chunhui、Hao Shimin、JiriStraka(Czechia)、Lei Gang、Li Gang、Li Sa、Li Tingting、Li Zhihong、LiangChaoshui、Liang Qun、Lin Yuxin、Liu Xuguang、Lü Peng、Su Xiewei、Sun Chu、TaoKankan、Tian Xiaochi、 Tu Shaohui、Wang Huangsheng、Wang Muyu、Wang Xuelin、WeiQingji、Wu Di、Xu Lei、Yan Bei、Yan Hairong、Yang Wenping、Yu Yang、Yu Yu、YuanFuguo、Zeng Jianyong、Zhang Jianmin、Zhang Yanzi、Zhang Yu

“What is Ink?” really means to ask what ink can do, but it also means to ask what ink truly is.

What is ink? What can ink do? These two questions comprise the past and present of the concept of ink.

Originally, ink was a material. As its system of referential meaning developed, the term “ink” gradually came to include a mode of painting that used ink as a material; “ink” also generally referred to a specific way of painting, and a mood that was connected to the painting process. In modern times, with the unprecedented surge in national consciousness, ink came to be seen as a cultural symbol and a source of national identity.

Currently, whether we examine it in the context of art history or art criticism, we can never accurately define the different things that it signifies, and most disastrously, in any given context, authors often glibly interchange the concept of ink, which already has multiple implications, with other ideas, creating immense confusion.

It is only when the first question is clearly defined that we can find a way into the second question.

Today, when we ask what ink can do, we do not presuppose that it is an unevolved artistic medium suited only for museums. Our intention is to expand ink and the various cultural phenomena that are implied within ink; we want to know if ink can have new value for people today.

As a result, I think that the first layer of meaning still comes from the material realm; is it possible for the material of ink, and the system of linguistic symbols that have been built from it, to continue to develop in this day and age? Second, can the formulaic techniques and aesthetics that ink signifies reflect the interior worlds and lived circumstances of people today? Third, when artists can use more open linguistic methods and a broader array of materials and media, does ink still have the ability to spark new ideas? Through freer participation, can ink reflect an increasingly complex and diverse modern society and the spiritual worlds of contemporary people?

We have organized this exhibition to examine the many aspects of the concept of ink, such as materials, painting techniques, cultural symbolism, and community values. The medium of the works presented are not limited to painting, installation, and video; we have even included expressive methods from other types of painting, which can be used to deconstruct and reconstruct the various chains of meaning that have been fixed around ink in the past.

From this perspective, this is certainly not a “normal” ink exhibition, but we hope that it can become a way to re-examine the concept of ink and a way to think about these issues.

——Wu Hong


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[Editor] 张艳