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The Other Side of Time

WU Yiming Solo Exhibition Preface Author: ZHU Qi Translator: Kaimei Olsson Wang (王凯梅) 2012-04-15

WU Yiming has made a different choice in his approach to ink painting. He is not keen to follow the formalism reform of modern Chinese ink painting tradition as developed by WU Changshuo and HUANG Binhong in the last century. Neither can he be situated easily within the framework of the contemporary ink painting over the last 30 years. With this background, WU Yiming unconsciously started a new method of ink painting, where he   of traditional forms of Chinese art. For instance, painting as simply an amateur's approach to a scholar's mind at leisure in his natural living situation. This kind of painting with the mind at leisure becomes a type of diary, similar to the diary form literature from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, which are filled with private experiences. Needless to say, WU Yiming's new experiment with ink painting is firstly rebooting a traditional form of Chinese art, for instance, namely painting as simply an amateur's approach to a scholar's mind at leisure in his natural living situation. Painting has become a type of diary similar to the diary form literature we have seen from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. They were filled with private experiences.

The Ming and Qing scholars often projected their inner longings and spiritual pursuit through their obsession with certain objects, which often acted as correlatives of their desires or state of mind. Similar to these scholars, WU Yiming's ink paintings depict life's playfulness and enjoyment of leisure, such as looking at the branches of a blooming orchid, a corner of a water pond, a portrait of a friend or a pair of dancing swans in a lake. He added as well some contemporary urban elements such as a car on an empty ground, the spectrum of a neon light, several landscape photographs, a still from a film sequence, designer playing cards.

For WU Yiming, his state of mind is closest to city impressions. His interest lingers more on the various subjects of urbanism instead of one specific object. Sometimes his cityscape is infused with his memory and reshaped in his mental world. Nature is far from being WU Yiming's only subject.  Many times his paintings of nature often touch other issues such as landscape photography and city planning. Nature in his painting expands to a deeper level because it also has to do with artificial landscape, photographic image and specific setting. Through his impressionistic approach, WU inserts phenomenological consciousness into our experience of nature.

Thus he enters a new territory of negotiating the nature's role in our postmodern urban life through ink painting. In his world, nature experience has become metaphysical. WU Yiming does not rely on simple form transformation with symbols of modern society and graphics of industrial landscape to reach nature's impact on human mind. His experience has to be physical and phenomenological. From the traditions of Western art, such as watercolor painting, conceptual art and even graphic design and monochrome background, WU has picked elements that help him to shape the urbanism of our times.Yet still he pursues a color scale as simple and elegant as that in traditional Chinese ink painting.

The Chinese ink painting tradition has arrived at a new phase in our postmodern society. Instead of seeking conflicts with the tradition of modernism, we are back to where we started. This doesn't mean we are retuning back to conservatism. It shows only that by looking for deep roots in our tradition, we can find new ways of expression in this ancient medium. This is what WU Yiming's new ink painting has proved.

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