The Enduring Passion for Ink: A Project on Contemporary Ink Painters

Britta Erickson

The Enduring Passion for Ink: A Project on Contemporary Ink Painters (or the "Project") is a proposed exhibition, book, and film series designed to introduce the viewing public to the burgeoning field of contemporary ink painting in China today. The key to the exhibition lies in a series of documentary films, one for each featured artist, to be shown adjacent to that artist's works. The films will address the fundamental artistic choices confronting the ink artist: Why did s/he choose ink as a medium? How is ink's expressive range distinct from that of other artistic media? How does the artist go about creating an ink work? How does the artist approach issues such as tradition, creative innovation, and personal expression? Each film will feature the artist addressing these questions and show him or her at work in the studio in the process of creating a work of art. Through time-lapsed photography, the film will also show that same painting's evolution from start to finish. If deemed a success by the artist, the painting captured on film will be included in the exhibition.


Because of the real-time performance aspect of setting ink into an absorbent ground, film is a particularly fitting means to not only demystify the ideational process of the artist but to enthrall the viewer in the physical act of painting with ink. In this respect, The Enduring Passion for Ink: A Project on Contemporary Ink Painters is absolutely unique; as a means to re-introduce this ancient art language to international audiences today, it is nothing less than essential.


Master Cui's Riddle

Master Cui discusses the different approaches to painting an ink landscape, whether based on an idea of landscape or the physical appearance of the landscape.


Chen Haiyan's Dreams

Chen Haiyan bases all her paintings and prints on her dreams. She has a unique approach to producing very large painting-based woodcuts.


Li Huasheng's Ambivalence

Although already famous as a traditional landscape painter, Li Huasheng decided he must find a new way of representing the land, and of his experience in the world.


Li Jin's Feast

Li Jin loves food, and uses it as a metaphor to explain particular aspects of Chinese ink painting.



Wang Dongling's Lines of Performance

Wang Dongling is China's greatest calligrapher both in the traditional sense, and as an experimental artist. He has brought calligraphy into the realm of contemporary art through his performative practice,…


Xu Bing's Semiotics

Xu Bing has been fascinated by words all his life, and explores their significance via his artistic practice. He paints a "Landscript" in this film.


Yang Jiechang's Gu and Qi

Yang Jiechang had a very traditional training as an ink painter, with a personal master, and then study at an academy. He has repudiated much of the thinking behind his…


Bingyi's Madness and Magic

Bingyi's practice ranges from the very small to the very large, using paint brushes so small the lines cannot be seen, but also creating works as large as a field…


Zheng Chongbin's Process

Zheng Chongbin trained as a figure painter in Hangzhou, then earned an MA at the San Francisco Art Institute. He works with Chinese ink, but produces abstractions inspired by the…



Liu Dan's Perfection

Liu Dan seeks an aesthetic purity in his work, and identifies such purity in Song dynasty painting, medieval paintings, old master drawings, and so on. He investigates a kind of…