[New York, NY] April 24, 2014 - The Museum of Chinese in America is pleased to present a contemporary Chinese ink painting exhibition, Oil & Water: Reinterpreting Ink featuring the work of three notable artists Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia and Zhang Hongtu. The exhibition will be on view from April 24, 2014 through September 14, 2014.


In conjunction with the exhibition, MOCA will present a symposium on Sunday, April 27. Combining scholarly presentations with open conversations between the artists and leading art historians, the symposium will unpack the critical importance of the ink genre. Artists, scholars, curators, writers, and experts will discuss the trajectory of Chinese ink art from traditional landscape painting and calligraphy to the creative reinterpretation of these historic models. The day-long program includes panels, artists in conversation, and gallery tours. Panelists include Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, Zhang Hongtu, Melissa Chiu, Lilly Wei, John Rajchman, Julia F. Andrews, Kuiyi Shen, Joan Lebold Cohen, Richard Vine, Robert C. Morgan, Jerome Cohen, and Aileen Wang.


The works of Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu are integral to the continuing story of Chinese ink and contemporary art in general. Since its ancient and medieval incarnations, ink has served as the primary medium of Chinese visual arts. As a pillar of Chinese culture, ink has long united China’s ‘three artistic perfections’: calligraphy, poetry and painting. For thousands of years in China, ink has been ubiquitous as an expressive medium, but by the mid-20th century, Chinese artists were interested in exploring Western art movements such as impressionism, abstract expressionism, minimalism, and post modernism. Through exploring the diametric poles of Chinese ink painting and the Western tradition of oil painting, the works of Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu took off in new directions.


Following their schooling during the Cultural Revolution in China, these three pioneering artists came to the United States in the 1980s seeking greater artistic freedom. Synthesizing ink painting techniques and influences from within the art scene in New York, each artist developed a unique visual vocabulary and technique that resisted easy categorization. Oil & Water will highlight significant works from these artists, spanning their mature careers from the 1980s to today.


“Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu came to America at a critical stage of their artistic journeys. They found creative communities here in New York and adapted to their new conditions in ways that clearly informed their work,” according to Herb Tam, the Museum’s Curator and Director of Exhibitions.

“Given the strong global interest in Chinese contemporary art today, the exhibition contributes to the conversation on the influence of contemporary art practices on the Chinese ink tradition and its place within the context of a historical paradigm,” said Michelle Y. Loh, guest curator of Oil & Water.

During the run of the exhibition, MOCA will also offer a series of special weekend workshops, Ink Experiments on May 3, July 12, and August 2, for children ages 5-13. The workshops will provide opportunities for participants to explore techniques and creative ideas within the Chinese ink tradition. No previous art-making experience is necessary, and all materials are provided. For updates on the forthcoming program schedule, please visit the Museum’s website.


Artist and curator biographies are available on the website. Please email MOCAPRESS for images.


Oil & Water: Reinterpreting Ink and the catalogue are supported by Carolyn Hsu Balcer and René Balcer, Karen Y. Wang, Rachel Sha, Marie and Harley Lippman, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. This exhibition and related programs are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts (Museum Program), with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

About Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

MOCA’s mission is to celebrate the living history of the Chinese experience in America, to inspire our diverse communities to contribute to America’s evolving cultural narrative and civil society, and to empower and bridge our communities across generations, ethnicities and geography through our dynamic stories.