Artist Liang Quan charts as one of the pioneer Chinese artists to incorporate traditional Chinese ink painting with Western collage. Inundated with the ‘85 New Wave Art Movement, Liang departed Hangzhou for further studies in the United States, before returning to China. This journey struck an enduring mark on his practice that sentiments the aesthetics of both East and West. Using traditional materials such as Chinese rice (xuan) paper and organic adhesive glue, his ink collages take the notion of “void” in historical Chinese literati painting and contemporise it to a new level of pure abstraction. The artist prefers to work in private at his makeshift home studio in Shenzhen. Each piece of paper is dyed, torn and cut into thin shreds or sometimes patterned fragments, before being meticulously affixed into a visual chapter that attunes to the work’s given title. Adjusting the composition through long and sustained intervals, Liang’s work traces years of social and personal changes from the banality of life’s small moments.
「视线 Sight Lines」展览现场
梁铨 Liang Quan, 无所思 Stillness, 2019
Entering the gallery, we are greeted by a soothing sight of Liang Quan’s works against the minted walls. At first glance, his ribbon-like blend of ink washes and tangible forms progressively fades all at once into the canvas just to indistinctively reappear before our eyes. Once we begin to adjust to the concealed details stacked upon the work’s myriad layers, a silhouette of truth softly reveals–– beyond the emptiness is the embrasure of infiniteness. These exquisite ink collages are an intimate portrayal of the artist’s outlook in life–– where he practices a non-confrontational and non-imposing attitude to navigate this ever-changing world. In the most allegorical way, they allude to a slow, serene transcendence into Zen. When one no longer repents or redresses his own situation but appreciates everything as an onlooker, emerging from such a state of “emptiness” is the return to a moment of ease. Art embodies the artist’s spiritual condition: one at peace with all life experiences and an openness to welcome the new.
梁铨 Liang Quan, 星夜旅程 Strarry Journey by the Night, 2010
Many of Liang Quan’s collage exhibits the aesthetics of liubai (leaving blank), whereby a painting is intentionally empty to create space in traditional Chinese ink painting. But for an attentive audience, what supposedly seems empty is, in fact, a careful manipulation of refined details and layering. It is like a game of hide-and-seek, look closely, and you’ll spot a favourite piece of minimal component–– the grid, secretly reassuring structure to the work. His neat orchestration of pictorial forms paired with sentimental titles such as “ Birdsong in the Willows”, “Stillness”, and “Starry Journey by the Night” blanket us with a sense of tranquillity and ease.
梁铨 Liang Quan, 清白 Pure, 2020
Liang is a great admirer of ancient Chinese painter Ni Zan (a renowned representative of desolate beauty in Chinese painting) and the teachings of traditional Chinese aesthetics and philosophy. Much reflected in Liang’s picture composition, his treatment of spatial purity and colour harmony hearkens back to the ancient spirit of perpetual emptiness. However, there lies a twist. Unlike literati painting, which uses ‘emptiness’ to convey substance, the artist implements the repetition of details to cancel out their own importance and draw out a new sense of blankness.