Walsh Gallery

Mao / Song / Min / Jiang / Bang: Ink 6


Dates: Dec 10 2004 - Jan 28 2005

Opening Reception: Dec 10 2004

INK 6, A continuing survey of contemporary usages of ink by gallery artists.

Chicago, Illinois;

Opens on December 10 and runs through January 29. The opening reception is Friday, December 10 from 5 to 9pm. The artists include Chen Xin Mao, Xue Song, He Sai Bang, Zhang Hai Tian, Chai Yi Min, and Qi Gu Jiang. In an artistic climate where high tech art made by Chinese artists is in the forefront of what is "fresh", Walsh Gallery presents Ink 6. This exhibit features paintings and prints that were made with ink. All 6 Chinese artists originally came from Shanghai. Ms. Walsh, the gallery director, went to Shanghai for the Biennial this September and brought back much of the work that appears in this show.

Chai Yi Min makes quirky paintings on rice paper with ink and nail polish. His paintings are a type of visual diary. The artist paints each day only one piece. The references to his day are difficult to decipher. His figures usually have sexual overtones and are often

turned into fantastical beasts. When asked about the source of his inspiration, Mr. Chai replied, "Well, I digest what people have to say and then I eat a lot, and see what comes back up."

He Sai Bang's work continues to challenge ideas of what Chinese ink painting should be. Birds, mountains, and flowers are absent from his work; instead we might find common household objects-an egg, a rice cooker, a chopstick. His lines are sometimes choppy and halting, not always smooth and unbroken as in more traditional work. His fascination with muted colors, gray, white, and black especially, gives his paintings a sparse, minimal look. He also has a great fondness for seemingly accidental water spots and blotches, which he painstakingly places on the works. While such "accidents" might ruin a piece of traditional painting, in his works they create an odd tension that would otherwise read as a serene still life. Mr. He typically discards more than a dozen paintings before creating a version that succeeds to his satisfaction.

Zhang Hai Tian's paintings depict daily life in Shanghai. Despite the unbelievable rate of change that has occurred in Shanghai, Mr. Zhang is concerned with reflecting the unchanging spirit of the Shanghainese, whether it is an impromptu image of a boy on a bicycle, or a group of teenagers at a coffee shop or bar.

Chen Xin Mao debuts large-scale "pseudo" ink paintings. At first glance these works look like traditional ink paintings of rocks. Actually, they are large-scale digital prints mounted onto silk. On each rock's surface there are hidden a collection of the artist's antiques. Also embedded in the landscape of these rock forms is the remains of an ancient boat on top of a desert. The rocks that form the main structure of these paintings were submerged in moving water for hundreds of years to shape them, and the piece could easily be titled "Remnants".

Xue Song's prints are a multi-colored reference to Andy Warhol with a Chinese flair. In the series called "Star", some of the prints have a star filled with images of western sex icons, while the area surrounding the star is filled with Chinese sex symbols. In another

series of prints, a single star which is reprinted in different colors contains the words "for sale" in Chinese juxtaposed with images from the Cultural Revolution.

Qi Gu Jiang moved to Chicago from Shanghai in 1987 and is a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of Mr. Jiang's ink paintings contain a broad, inky brush stroke that cuts horizontally across a spare white field. On top of this line, Mr. Jiang places delicately rendered objects from daily life alongside of eccentric characters. In a piece entitled "Acrobat", an ink stroke supports quite an eclectic mixture of items: the leg of a Chinese antique chair, a peculiar grouping of fish, and a flower vase. Mr. Jiang will be present at the opening reception.