The Madness, Elegance, and Thrill of Ink——The Spirit and Style of Xuan Yongsheng’s Ink Painting


[News Lead]
“I work my hands over the rice paper, joyfully, freely narrating my own story: ‘Who am I?’  ‘How did I turn into us?’  ‘What am I looking for?’  ‘Where am I going?’  ‘Can I Yong Sheng [live forever]?’
I thank God for giving me life!  And for having let me, fortunately and unfortunately, choose ‘painting!’”

       The grand opening for “The Madness, Elegance, and Thrill of Ink——The Spirit and Style of Xuan Yongsheng’s Ink Painting” successfully took place at Today Art Museum on Sep 20th, 2014.  The exhibition is the first retrospective exhibition of Xuan Yongsheng after his return from Canada.  Artists and art critics Dao Zi,Hao Qingsong,Yuan Yunfu, Liu Jude,Jia Fangzhou,Ding Fang,Wang Duanting,Niu Hongbao,Weng Jianqing,Liu Yi,Yan Binghui,Shao Yan,Areil,Cheng Xiaobei,Liu Shuohai,Zhi Nan,Sun Xixiang are among honored guests to celebrate the accomplishments of Mr. Xuan.

The exhibition primarily includes Xuan’s later series, Not Mountain Not Water, and significant earlier artworks to reflect his entire artistic career. This show was curated by Professor Dao Zi, in collaboration with Dr.Hao Qingsong, to present the life of the artist Xuan Yongsheng.

Xuan Yongsheng is a Canadian Chinese artist who has distinguished artworks in multiple mediums, such as Chinese ink painting, illustration, ceramics and woodblock printing. Since the 1980s, he has been exploring Chinese pictorial ink painting and combining it with expressionism and abstractionism to find his unique language of Modern ink art.  Inspired by Chinese traditional ink painting aesthetics of "leisure without restraint," Xuan blends Chinese and Western elements, introducing diversity, self-awareness, self-sufficiency, and developmental logic that sustain the transformation of Chinese ink painting.  He opens up an artistic path that embodies spiritual strength and aesthetic freedom with professional skills and tenacity.
 Xuan describes his own art in the following quote: 
"My art does not belong in the general category, but it did evolve from the conventional; thus, it is niche yet still has consensus viewpoints.  I want to use contemporary imagery to present the inner monologue of my own history and experiences, of my family, my life and lifestyle, and my personality, all of these in close relation to society, economy, culture, time and space.  I have struggled.  I was confident about my ability to produce market-ready art!  Yet another inner voice questioned me: 'so, where is the heart of my true self?'  Despite my approaching old age, I still ultimately chose an ultra-niche form of ink wash painting, which 'writes in the style of a spiritual journal.'  This style of ink wash painting involves 'holding the Dantian region' and had long been repeatedly marginalized as 'old-fashioned and outdated.'  What’s encouraging is that it has been attracting more and more attention from the 'in-crowd' over recent years." (Xuan Yongsheng, 2014)

The exhibition aims to introduce the remarkable characteristics of Xuan’s ink painting, which breaks through the rigid painting style by powers of abstraction and imagination, and rebuilds the grandness and profundity of ink.  The artist combines the characteristics of comprehensive landscape painting, calligraphy, and Western contemporary painting to create a new style.

The exhibition is open until September 26 and all are welcome to attend.