Artist Panel: “Four Takes on the 1980’s”

Moderators: Craig Yee (INK studio Director), Alan Yeung (INK studio Chief Editor)

Participating artists: Li Jin, Wang Dongling, Zheng Chongbin, Zhang Jianjun


In the late 1980’s, the lives and careers of four Chinese artists are to change forever in ways they do not yet know. Li Jin (b. 1958) has exiled himself to Tibet for a second time, still attracted to its spirituality but realizing its essential alienness to him. Isolating himself from the local art scene, he turns his attention to everyday life and embarks on his now-familiar "home-stylism" (家常主义). Wang Dongling (b. 1945) teaches Chinese calligraphy to art students at the University of Minnesota, beginning a 4-year sojourn in the United States that will cement his resolve to engage calligraphy in dialogue with the international art world. Arriving in San Francisco in the wake of a successful solo exhibition in Shanghai, Zheng Chongbin (b. 1961) abandons ink painting for installation and conceptual art as he remakes his own cultural identity in the Bohemian milieu of the Castro. Zhang Jianjun (b. 1955), whose avant-garde oil paintings and stage designs have led to withering criticism and to his demotion to a menial position at the Shanghai Museum, plans his escape to New York City.


All four artists are working on the fringes of the Chinese art world, but are in time to charge its mainstream with immense energy. Their distinctive but resonant experiences of the 1980’s are to have profound effects on the course of contemporary Chinese art. This panel will revisit their lives during this period and illuminate its enduring influence on their current practices.

November 4, 2016