Triumph Gallery is pleased to present “Metaphor: Contemporary Ink Painting Exhibition of Seven Artists” on October 20th, 2018 at Triumph Gallery. This exhibition presents ink painting works by seven artists, including Liang Ying, Li Guanguan, Li Jun, Wang Mengsha, Zhang Tianmu, Zhou Xue, Zhu Zhengming (alphabetical order).
As a literary rhetoric, metaphor has been around for quite a long time. So is it in visual art, where artists create metaphorical works, and art historians approach masterpieces via the lens of metaphors. Studies of the metaphor have given us access to the religious meaning of symbols such as “bread”, “lambs” and “skeletons” in classical paintings, the relationship between the magpies and the rabbit in Two Magpies from Song dynasty, and the friendship between the mountain and the elders in Mount Lushan by Shen Zhou from Ming dynasty. While traditional Chinese paintings seldom focus on realistic story-telling, metaphors are commonly seen to evoke rich social and cultural connotations and consequently establish an understanding system unique to themselves.
In modern art, metaphors have evolved to be a more direct and distinct means of creation, both in avant-garde poetry and art. As Baudelaire wrote, “People pass through the symbolic forest, who observes them like an echo.” As the reign of realism comes to an end, contemporary Chinese ink paintings inherits the metaphorical traditions, and lets in the new methods of modern art as a channel for perception, experience, imagination, understanding and discussion, forging a new structural bond between self and others, the inner world and the outside, reality and emotions.
New ink painting has become popular since the second decade of this century. Initially, artists and critics were keen on interpreting the difference between the new and the traditional from the perspective of painting language and visual forms. As time went by, formal transformation was not enough to be what it took to be new. As a result, artists and critics began to seek alternatives from the self, life, reading and concepts to remap the meaning of newness. It has become apparent that mere visual changes can no longer help with the development of ink painting, and the interaction between individuals, society and culture becomes especially crucial. And this is precisely why this exhibition is called “metaphor”.