I was enthralled this week by the British Museum’s exhibition of modern Chinese ink paintings, and a talk by the curator, Clarissa von Spee. Case after case of stunning Chinese landscape painting, revealing the ways in which 20th century artists took the models of their ancient forbears and gave them a modern twist. For instance, a hanging scroll by Zhang Daqian of a brooding blue-black mountain scene combines the splashed ink technique (pomo) of the Tang Dynasty (618-906) with Western Abstract Expressionism. Liu Kuo-sung gives us a different type of mountain landscape: inspired by man’s landing on the moon, he uses a paper cutout for the white circle of the moon/sun and bold calligraphic brush strokes for the mountains, streaked with white where he has torn fibres from the paper. There are flower and figure paintings too; so much to feast on that I think I must go back.
Modern Chinese Ink Paintings
British Museum, London
3 May 2012 to 2 September 2012
Above: Liu Kuo-sung, Sun and Moon, Floating? Sinking? 1970. Paper montage, paper cutouts, ink and colours on paper. Height 57.2 cm; width 94.2 cm. British Museum. Image: Trustees of the British Museum, at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database.aspx.