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Journal | INK NOW Taipei Art Expo Curatorial Statement | INK NOW 水墨現場
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INK NOW Taipei Art Expo Curatorial Statement
Emerson Wang (Artistic Director, INK NOW)

The debut of INK NOW Art Journal was born with our vision of self-media and "More than Art Fair, More than Ink". Apart from issuing paper version of INK NOW Art Journal, we will run our own website -, a multifaceted art platform combines academic exchanges, collector's engagement, curated online exhibitions, and art journal. Integrating online and offline resources to promote ink art and ink-related culture.


Contemporary ink wash painting touches on two fundamental questions: what is “contemporariness” and what is “ink wash painting”? When it comes to present discourses on ink wash painting, the necessity of questioning contemporariness indicates the impression held of such painting as being deeply rooted in tradition, age-old or even obsolete despite artists or discourse makers’ persistent emphasis on “contemporariness.” Yet in referring to “ink wash painting,” it is held to be emblematic of eastern spirit, just as oil painting is always evoked in talking about western painting. Therefore, from an eastern standpoint, the following question requires deeper reflection: between tradition and innovation, how to find relevance to the status quo even while looking toward the future?

Lizi MAO The Great Blue Oil on Canvas 200 x 300 cm x 2pcs 2015 (Parkview Green Art)

Ink wash painting is a unique art form in East Asia. Profound traditions and history of the region contribute to the deep essence of its culture. With the modern wave of the West gradually becoming the mainstream viewpoint, ink wash painting has been considered a regional phenomenon even from the perspective of western art history, and the subjectivity of such art in Asia’s art history also encounters unprecedented challenge. The concerns of such aesthetic culture consisting of reflecting the taste particularly differ greatly from those of western discourses. In the past, in responding to issues about real life, ink wash painting mostly adopted metaphysical and lofty rationality of literati. It is a reclusive philosophy which therefore leads to a closed visual language. The aspects of contemporary ink wash painting supposed to be developed become more and more diversified; artists appropriate more and more secular social issues and the art of such genre goes beyond tradition, gradually opening possibility for a contemporary new state. In regions of East Asia where the art of ink wash painting is highly developed: Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, artists offer artistic views that adequately reflect contemporary reality.

Chloe HO Tiger Mountain Chinese Ink and Coffee on Rice Paper 121 x 182.5 cm 2016 (3812 Gallery)

Contemporary art has totally entered an era of individualization. The so-called schools or art groups in the past no longer exist. Once the threshold of “post-historical condition” is passed, the uniqueness of individual becomes even more prominent, indicating contemporary ink wash painting moves away from traditional collective spirit of the past. The fact that such phenomenon gradually becomes a part of current ink wash painting obviously marks the possibility of enhanced individualization. Deprived of the connotation about “cultural identity,” discourses on the contemporariness of the art of such genre enhance “Meta-conceptual” deployment. Questions preoccupying artists no longer revolve around seeking one’s position but rather interrogations that returns farther to the essence, involving what ink wash painting is, what its forms, spirit and current phenomenon are. Through artists’ creations, the interrogations become reflections over contemporary phenomena and a vision of reconsidering the art of the genre.

Pu-Chun TENG Virtuality in Solitude Ink on Paper 126 x 239 cm 2018 (Chini Gallery)

The first edition of INK NOW Art Expo will debut in Taipei. Based on a historic context, it looks back and recontextualizes ink wash painting in Greater China, constructing discourse of a more complete system. Starting from artists born in the 1920s who received traditional ink wash painting training, faced the impact of a tumultuous society and, in the 1960s, lived in a complicated context of different political situation and reflected the reality through art-making, it further looks at artists of such genre in the 1980s who spent their youth under the impact in Taiwan as well as the influence of Chinese tradition, and created a new variation of ink wash painting from such paradoxical context. The survey offers a new context in discussing the status quo of the genre. More than an art fair, this is an integrated platform between thematic curating and commercial art fair. Within such historic frame, we also try to find a new aesthetic vision that pertains to eastern literati spirit of the 21st century. This is the only way to establish our own right to speak and to find again a basis of dialogue with art of the West.

Kuo-Sung LIU August on the Silk Road Ink and Color on Paper 95.2 x 51 cm 1986 (Loftyart Gallery)

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