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Abstraction on Chinese Contemporary Art

jiang-zhi-2016.jpg

White Cube Mason’s Yard in London is currently having a group exhibition titled “The world is yours, as well as ours”, which focus on the work of nine contemporary Chinese artists to explore modes of abstraction in Chinese contemporary painting.

While abstraction in the Western world only began with the age of Modernism, it has been used for longer Chinese art, having developed through the influences of calligraphic aesthetics and Taoist philosophy. This exhibition involves artists from different generations. There can be clear distinction of expression between those born during the 1940-60’s, who are looking at western influence, but still linked to Chinese traditional culture, and those born in the 1970’s onward, whose starting point equals the same generation in the West.

White Cube’s Gallery director in Hong Kong Ms Laura Zhou explains ” Chinese traditions such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism are extremely abstract and refer to nothingness and an emptiness. This can be felt by the artists we show like Youhan, Tang Guo, Qin Yifen and Xhou Li.

Chinese artists do not work under the linear framework of artistic evolution. In this regard, abstraction to them is one of the many parallell styles rather than an independent style. To put it in another way, though what they create is abstract, they never consider themselves as abstract artists.

Jiang Zhi’s above image is taken by inspiration from the “system errors” of a computer screen, rendered in large scale to create complex patterns and forms. His work is very Western in expression but with the inner spirit of Chinese culture.

Daniel Brostrom