Graffiti and Calligraphy: 6 Abstract Artists in China

8 September - 22 October 2017 Shanghai
Press release
Arario Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of a group exhibition titled Graffiti and Calligraphy: 6 Abstract Artists in China on September 8, 2017. The exhibition presents 6 established Chinese artists, including Yu Youhan (余友涵, b.1943), Ma Kelu (马可鲁, b.1954), Qi Haiping (祁海平, b.1957), Tan Ping (谭平, b.1960), Huang Yuanqing (黄渊青, b.1963) and Chen Guangwu (陈光武, b.1967). From various generations of 40s, 50s to 60s, each exhibited artist enters into the calligraphic abstraction via their different opinions, approaches and viewpoints. With devoting themselves to shape their own artistic value and refine their artistic language continually, their works simultaneously embody the essence of “Graffiti and Calligraphy”, but maverick approach from others.

Containing two fundamental motions of painting, “Graffiti” refers to the painterly gestures of figuration, generally associating with unfolding colors in space. While “Calligraphy” refers to the gestural movements of calligraphy, most often be seen as linear movements from various types of brushworks. In terms of cultural attribute, “Graffiti” is closer to western artistic expressions, with a graffiti type of spontaneity and freedom; whereas “Calligraphy” is approaching to the oriental visual composition within its own principles and controllable frameworks. To review the Chinese ancient theory of “homology of calligraphy and painting”, this exhibition intends to equate “Graffiti” and “Calligraphy”, meanwhile, continues to reexamine the possibility of equifinality towards the abstract art between the Western and Eastern.

Stemming from the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy, the calligraphic abstraction is one of the most important future developing direction of Chinese abstract art. “Graffiti” and “calligraphy” would manifest their potenial independence on sense of form, sense of movement and sense of space, when calligraphy’s stipple and line break the limitation of its original shape. This new calligraphic abstraction is turning to be more untrammeled once the part is seen as entirety, and process as goal. In the meantime, it also has the variations in rhythm, together with its traditional perfectly skilled calligraphy. By abnegating the inherent ideographic function of calligraphy, to emphasis, the “meaning beyond the image”, and “conceive the meaning as we forget its form” should be the core value for further prospering the traditional cultural resource of Chinese abstract art, as well as the continuous contemporary creation. Despite the limited exhibition scale, the exhibition emerges a comprehensive summarization for the Chinese calligraphic abstraction, yet expresses its far-reaching significance.

Yu Youhan started to research “stone-drum inscriptions” (⽯⿎⽂) for his abstract creation since the 1980s. Circle Series become a representative as his spiritual in abstract art world as well as his prestigious figurative art series for more than 30 years. Ma Kelu’s abstraction experiment started in the middle of 1980s, his abstraction paintings always maintain the instincts on both psychological and formal aspects, with strong Chinese aesthetic and calligraphic interestingness. The artist also lived and persisted to create artworks in America for more than 10 years. Among Chinese oil painters with similar age, Qi Haiping's calligraphy has attained a professional level, based on which he researches and explores calligraphic abstraction. The inner beauty of running script and cursive script consists of his individual artistic language. Tan Ping studied in Germany in the late 1980s, he continued with his practice of abstraction over the last two decades upon his return to China, his multiple coating and fluid lines are his trademark painting approached to express the "nature of object" and "texture". Huang Yuanqing initiates his creating from modern calligraphy. His delicate graffiti emphasized by the brushstrokes, color, rhythm and composition, emboding the wisdom and taste of contemporary literati. Chen Guangwu is also a renowned modern calligrapher. His creation blurs the boundaries between painting and calligraphy. The visual elements of calligraphy — stipple and line, result in his further exploration of individual aesthetics.
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