Modern Chinese ink paintings

3 May – 2 September 2012

Recommend this exhibition

This exhibition features a selection of powerful ink paintings from the last 100 years by Chinese master artists.

China in the 20th century witnessed the collapse of its old imperial system and the rise of a modern nation state. It was a century of war and revolution, as well as a period of reorientation and renewal. In their search for a modern China, many artists travelled and studied abroad, gaining a new perspective on the past and the world.

The show starts with a work by Zhang Daqian (1889–1983), best known for his splashed ink landscapes in brilliant greens and blues, and a notorious forger. The exhibition includes one of his famous forgeries. Zhang met Picasso in the 1950s and both artists exchanged ink drawings.

The exhibition goes on to explore the development and diversity of Chinese ink painting in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the USA through the 20th century to the present. It focuses on artists who continued to practice ‘national-style painting’ (guohua), a traditional medium of ink on paper. A highlight of the show is a group of loans of six monumental works by Liu Dan (b. 1953), a major living exponent of contemporary ink painting.

The 40 works on display range from landscapes in brilliant colours, moonscapes in paper montage and stunning visions of nature to statements of friendship or political dissent in calligraphy and caricature. These beautiful and inspiring pieces showcase the vitality and visual power of modern Chinese ink painting.

Liu Dan (b. 1953), Poppy, Ink on paper, 2007

Liu Dan (b. 1953), Poppy, Ink on paper, 2007. From a private collection, Beijing.