Oil and Water: Reinterpreting Ink

April 24, 2014 - September 14, 2014


This exciting contemporary exhibition presents the work of three renowned Chinese contemporary artists: Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu. Ink is the primary medium of traditional Chinese two-dimensional art; it unites the "three perfections": calligraphy, poetry, and painting. Through a unique employment of the traditional Chinese materials of ink, brush, and rice paper, and by drawing inspiration from the Western art practices of impressionism, abstract expressionism, and post modernism, Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu investigate and reinterpret conventional calligraphy and landscape painting with contemporary approaches. This exhibition is guest curated by Michelle Y. Loh.


Join us this spring for the launch of MOCA's contemporary ink painting exhibition and related program!


April 23: Exclusive Members' Only Preview

April 24: Oil & Water Exhibition Opening

April 27: Oil & Water Symposium  (Learn more)

May 3, July 12, August 2: Ink Experiments, First Saturday Family Workshop Series


MEMBERS SEE IT FIRST! Join here to receive exclusive benefits and perks!



Artist bios


Qiu Deshu was born in 1948 in Shanghai. After graduating from high school, Qiu first worked at a factory and then became an artist worker at Luwan District Cultural Palace. In the late 1970s he founded the Cao Cao Society, a group of twelve artists dedicated to the promotion of artistic originality. Since the early 80s, he has been using ‘fissuring’ as the major theme in his work. He now lives and works in Shanghai and has been widely exhibited. Notable exhibitions include ‘Fissuring’ at Harvard University (1985), Kwangju Biennale (1995), ‘Ten Years after Grass Grass Group’ at Shanghai Duolun Contemporary Art Museum (2007), among many others.


Wei Jia was born in 1957 in Beijing. He graduated with a B.F.A from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1984) and M.F.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (1987). Currently he works and lives between New York and Beijing, where he teaches at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Wei has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in various venues in the United States and China, including Central Academy of Fines Arts, Beijing; National Museum of Art, Beijing; Dadu museum of art, Beijing; Yuan Dian museum, Beijing; Chelsea art museum, New York; CU art museum University of Colorado at Boulder; Museum of Binghamton University, New York; Lincoln Center, New York; Founders Gallery of University of San Diego, California, etc. His works are in the public collections of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, the Utah Museum and the Dadu museum of art, among others.


Zhang Hongtu was born into a Muslim family in China in 1943. Zhang graduated from the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing, 1969. He has lived in the U.S. since 1982. From the mid 1980s to the mid 90s, Zhang created paintings, sculptures and mixed media installations utilizing Mao’s image to express his ideas about Communist China and the Culture Revolution. In the last decade, Zhang‘s works have come to question complex relationships between the traditions of old China and the West today. His most recent works focus on the relationship between nature and the human condition. Zhang has exhibited extensively, including shows at the Princeton University Art Museum, the Guangzhou Triennial, the Havana Biennial, PS1 in New York, the New Museum in New York, and the Museu Picasso in Barcelona.

Guest Curator


Michelle Y. Loh is a New York-based art consultant. She was born and raised in Shanghai and educated in the United States. She holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Graphics from the University of Pennsylvania. Loh specializes in organizing art fairs and group exhibitions. She advises individual and institutional collectors about contemporary Asian art. Loh is the guest co-curator of “Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing”, a group exhibition which opens in May 2014 at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich Connecticut. Her most recent projects include: The Illusive View – A three-person exhibition of New York photographers at the 2011 Ping Yao International Photo Festival in China; Focus Shanghai – An exhibition featuring two Shanghai-based media artists at Thomas Erben Gallery in Chelsea; and Trans-Realism – An exhibition of contemporary art from China at Christie’s in New York. Loh was part of the founding team of the Asian Contemporary Art Fair, New York (ACAF NY), 2007 and 2008. From 2003 to 2005, she was co-publisher of the magazine “Art Asia Pacific.”



This exhibition is 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.