Eastern Spirit and Spatial Idea——Water Ink Art of Mr. Sang Huoyao
Source:Artintern Author:Yin Shuangxi Date: 2010-12-21 Size:
This year I come to the Zhejiang art museum to participate in academic activities many times, I feel the pleasant change of atmosphere while accidently seeing Mr. Sang Huoyao’s recent water ink work. I am very delighted to see the origin and development of modern ink art with new scheme structure and artistic language in Zhejiang, a place with glorious tradition of Chinese painting.

This year I come to the Zhejiang art museum to participate in academic activities many times, I feel the pleasant change of atmosphere while accidently seeing Mr. Sang Huoyao’s recent water ink work. I am very delighted to see the origin and development of modern ink art with new scheme structure and artistic language in Zhejiang, a place with glorious tradition of Chinese painting. Because once the innovative art is produced in place with long artistic history, it will inevitably have potential of long-term development. Before, Mr. Zhang Hao, from Chinese Academy of Art, had developed the modern water ink art ’s spatial space by performing water ink art language, while now I joyfully saw Mr. Sang Huoyao’s recent work, I might say, by endeavor of Mr. Sang Huoyao and Mr. Zhang Hao in abstractness water ink painting, Zhejiang water ink paintings’ multi-dimensional pattern has been expanded and broadened, while enriched the contemporary water ink painting creation reference system, thus enables us to have the possibility to view present development of water ink painting from a broader artistic field of vision.

First, I feel that Mr. Sang Huoyao’s work maintains respect to the Chinese water ink painting, deepened the traditional accumulated ink using method in water ink painting. From water ink usage, we can view painter’s character. Therefore, we may feel painter’s quiet mentality and open vision inherited from traditional water ink painting. Mr. Sang Huoyao’s painting has inherited Huang Binghong's scenery prospect, by multi-level dyes displays the night of mountain scenery which Huang Binghong likes, of which is similar to the impressionist school of drawing. In 1946, in a letter from Mr. Huang Binghong to his friend Mr. Bao Junbai saying “recently my clumsily paintings take as an example from the Northern Song Dynasty style, because the touch is calm, the ink rich, tallies every time with the European style. In Huang Binghong’s eye, “the shady-side mountain” from Song Dynasty, ink is dripping and rich, with bold and vigorous handwriting style, accumulates many to a lot. The reason why he studies thoroughly the Northern Song Dynasty drawing is to abolish simple stroke shallowness from Yuan and late Ming Dynasty, pursuing substance existence in an empty boundary. Mr. Huang Binghong takes the view that paintings from Northern Song Dynasty depict a lot in shady-side mountain. With heavy and rich ink, as if travels by night between the gully, layer upon layer with watercolors run, and adds details many times. Although rather moistened stagnates, it is the inevitable way to practice the painting by requiring the emptiness after pursuing substance existence. (1947)

Accurately speaking, Mr. Sang Huoyao’s drawing does not reflect landscape we see at present, but his personal understanding and feeling toward water and mountain scenery. Viewing his painting, we can feel and obtain the intrinsic visual harmony the painter has while facing the nature. Mr. Sang Huoyao’s abstract water ink painting transfers from macrocosm to the natural intrinsic sound, to feel universe harmonious landscape from inner geostationary calmness. His work may regard as the partial feature of the natural landscape abstractness. With his brush, he overlaps different level's black color, dying into the complex drawing landscape, and forms into multi- level spatial structure. His work leads us to view from abstract image to a calm, succinct and harmonious ideal. Mr. Sang Huoyao’s work contains rich brush and ink touch, on the other hand, through brushwork’s mutual superimposition, integrate into an overall broad vision landscape. Thousand and thousand touch comes down to one touch, from extremely numerous to simple, from extremely pale to thick, different extremes of ink has completed the natural transformation here, promotes and constrains mutually, complements one another.

Mr. Sang Huoyao’s paintings display three worlds’ superpositions and three kind of mark superimposition. That is to say, his work is not only the vivid symbol of the real world, but the symbol of the spiritual world, and simultaneously the structural symbol to express abstract world. Firstly, his work reflects his long-term observation and experience of the natural scenery; secondly, his work expresses the spiritual feeling of the natural scenery and space. These extremely thin and extremely white lines, which is similar to the mountain stream between the swarthy mountain and dense forest, expresses a delicate and slight ink movement. Thirdly, abstract world in his painting is a microscopic one, while has the similar structure of the real world. From part of the work, we might see the ink symphony in the wooded mountain with light shade interlocked forms. The painter has created kind of light shade manifestation with water ink, incorporating the impulsion when self meet with the reality. During the process of exploration, he has stopped possession of the concrete semblance, while grasped his overall impression of the landscape and the correspondent imagination derived, accumulating ink image to form the overall painting, while creating special visual image from spatial depth in flatness drawing. All of which made his work has kind of musical rhythm and intrinsic sound, just as forest pine, high mountains and floating streams.

Although Mr. Sang Huoyao’s painting has the modern esthetic sense and novel visual form, still retains Chinese traditional drawing style, which obviously expresses the “Eastern Spirit”, and beyond real life spirit. The so-called “Eastern Spirit” in art is actually the eastern artist’s understanding and value ideal toward the history, cultural and the contemporary life, and is the expression and purse of ultimate care to human’s future way of life and spiritual condition. Since 1980, the development of Chinese art is facing the market economy’s strong control after its initiation critique on rigid social system. Present generation’s spiritual life is always strongly controlled by politics and economy, and all this is being critically questioned and resisted in Chinese traditional culture life history even in eastern countries like India. The traditional Chinese writer adopts “the spiritual exceeding” towards the real life, which contains the precious spirit that modern society may use for reference, that is the treasuring of humanity cultural heritage, the pursuing of personal spiritual freedom, during which accomplished exceeding of real society, as well as exceeding body desire towards spiritual world.

Since the 80’s in 20th century, from subject to spiritual theme, Chinese water ink art is still inclined to traditional landscape scenery and human ideal. Majority of these artists’ value lie in meditation, contemplation, leisure and carefree, the acceleration of Chinese modernization even promotes the water ink art return and desire towards the tradition. Since 90’s the “water ink experiment” has made every effort to launch the Chinese water ink art prospect, broaden the understanding of Chinese society regarding to the traditional Chinese art, presented some outstanding artists and work, which is still on the edge of being questioned and criticized. The creation of experiment water ink art use the traditional Chinese water, ink, touch, outline, but the basic framework and visual interest is far away from traditional Chinese painting. Because of the ways and material usage of render, patch and the abandon of concrete image, the painting has obvious abstract figure, which cause criticism in two aspects. Vanguard's critics thought that they are too close to the western abstractionism, the expressionism, etc, however the abstractionism is a very mature early modernism school in the west, which doesn’t have strong force and language originality; the other critics come from the water ink art itself, considering that they have abandoned traditional water ink art’s essence and image, instead is just playing the formalism game. Thus, we can see that it’s still very difficulty for the Chinese water ink art to enter formal language system from the abstract level of scheme and symbolism.

At the early period in 20th century, Mr. Lin Fengmian had pointed out that the main reason of traditional water ink art’s decline is that “getting the art into some boring pastime’s entertainment”, means that it become some personal water ink game deviating from generation life, he also criticized that artists should begin with form if they want to express the feeling echoing with age. And that is the breakthrough point of 20th western modern art revolution, various schools of modern art reach the level that they can express the modern society with sensitivity and depth by art revolution since Impressionism. So we might also take the 20th century China’s water ink painting transformation history as the artistic language form transformation history, and the most important and controversial lie in the introduction of western college art education, and its violent conflict with traditional education and creation of Chinese water and ink art. At the early time in 20th century, Mr. Lin Fengmian has not clearly proposed the concept of material and media, but his own experiment was not limit to the traditional Chinese water ink material but take advantage of western way, also in artistic form(such as architect, touch, color etc.). We can say that Mr. Lin Fengmian’s artistic idea and practice has pioneering deep impact on the development of late 20th century Chinese modern water ink art.

Mr.Sang Huoyao’s work, transported Changjiang River, Mudanjiang, Yarlung Zangbo River and Qiantang River’s water, to paint on the cloth silk with hand-made mineral substance. Obviously, his work has some kind of contemporary art ideal, all materials come from different geography space. It’s not some regional natural scenery that he wants to express, what he wants to express is in a more macroscopic field of vision, the modern generation’s understanding to the nature and space. In 1988 I published a short paper in "Chinese Arts Newspaper", discussed the relation between artistic innovation and the linguistic material. As being the people’s exploration and delivery to the existence and presents, the art language is not only the express tool or way of consciousness, but precisely for Heidegger, these two languages where we can enters and makes the relation between people and existence more meaningful. To present the modern philosophy’s “art truth” of art itself by art language, seizing and expressing in “silent” to the whole world’s consciousness through art. Thus, art language and material obtain the significant existence as intermediary. Just like Wittgenstein said “displays one language means representation one kind of life.”

Mr. Sang Huoyao’s abstract water ink is not only abstract but also concrete, he expresses present generation’s rich vision feeling and inner world by using abstract water ink language. We can feel the dialectical understanding regarding to the visual richness and whole succinct of his works, and also the classical taste and simple but concrete modern esthetic manner toward some dignified elegance. Mr.Zong Baihua has said that although the first-class literary arts must have the universality and humanity, they also should simultaneously contain a deepest significance, wait for the eternal understanding. Since 1978, contemporary water ink art has been enriching and develops its own domain unceasingly, with the introduction of “space” concept and multiple “brushwork” combination, water ink arts has breakthrough in space, shape as well as formal language, meanwhile liberties the traditional thoughts. Modern water ink arts enters the visional field and psychological experience which traditional water ink cannot reach, promoting the generation of new arts with humanity character, becoming a vital force in modern art creation.

Dec. 1st 2010

Yin Shuangxi

Professor of Central Academy of Art, Art Critic

[Editor] 王栋栋