Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts

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Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
The End of Modernity in Calligraphy: From Yuichi Inoue, Lee Ufan to Zhang Yu
Date
2015-07-24 ~ 2015-09-20
 In the contemporary art of the 20th century, Orientalism is considered as a branch of Modernism. The conversation between Eastern and Western painting becomes an important issue. The fruit of the conversation is reciprocal understanding that brings these two parties closer to each other. Ink wash painting took in European abstractness as well as the expressionistic composition, while the calligraphic linearity in Chinese art found its way into Western modern painting.

 In the 1930s and 1940s, British art critic Roger Fry, pointed out the calligraphic linearity in Chinese painting in “Line as a Means of Expression in Modern Art.” Another British art critic Herbert Read analyzed the calligraphic linearity in the works of avant-garde artists such as Franz Kline, Mark Tobey, and Motherwell and put forth the concept of “calligraphy paining” in A Concise History of Modern Painting. In 1950s, Western paintings start to put their attention on how linearity plays its part in Chinese calligraphy and ink wash painting. Since, Expressionistic calligraphy works of Japanese artists such as Yuichi Inoue, are exhibited around Europe frequently.  

 The exhibition “The End of Modernity in Calligraphy: From Yuichi Inoue, Lee Ufan to Zhang Yu” aimed to probe into the significant practice of modernist calligraphy in the post-war Asia. It highlights expressionistic calligraphy works of Yuichi Inoue in 1950s, artworks of Lee Ufan, a Korean-Japanese artist who plays an important role in the Mono-ha art movement, and the works of experimental ink wash paintings by Zhang Yu in the 1990s. These artists transformed the calligraphic characteristic in Chinese art into a brand new language of modernism. Their achievements in post-war Asian modern art are significant yet unrecognized, and are not given due acclamation in the history of art.   

 This exhibition is a first attempt to take China, Korea and Japan as one art group, trying to present the modernity coming of literati painting and its Chinese calligraphic language system. Inoue expands Chinese calligraphy into expressionistic calligraphy painting. Lee defines lines and brushstrokes as a conceptual iconic expression that setting in between Chinese calligraphy and Western oil painting. Zhang gives up Chinese calligraphy and instead adopts a means of anti-writing, abstracting writing between water and paper and transforming it into a purely conceptual creation.

 by Zhu Qi