“What are the possibilities of Chinese ink art?” is a question that has dwelt on my mind since the 1980s, with my focus centered on where history did not avail. By history, I mean the classical and modern ink art that took place before my time. I do not claim to be a torchbearer for the legacy of Chinese ink art, but aspire to be an explorer who interrogates its cultural context and venture into uncharted terrain, in pursuit of ink art’s untapped potential.
Forty years have flown by since I first embarked on this research, which began when I was in university delving into the history of traditional Chinese ink art and painting theory, and gradually I started honing a style that would come to underpin a theory system of my own construct. Along this journey questions abound: What is brush and ink? What is shanshui painting? What are the merits and flaws of modern ink painting? What is object and character? What is authentic shanshui? What are the limitations of classical painting language? How do I reimagine the idea of “internal comprehension within the heart’s source”? What is absent from history? My practice aims to unravel the kernels of truth in these queries.
My decades-long investigation of form and content has allowed me to contemplate the core of ink art. My artistic inquiry and research eventually lead to questions for myself: Why do I paint? Why do I choose this approach? How do I validate myself through art? What do I intend to convey? I have made the choice to delve into ink art’s centuries-spanning history, with hopes of breaking away, breaking free. In seeking a different creative direction, combined with my thought and experience, I strive to forge a path of my own.