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The Matter Becomes Form – Zheng Chongbin and his ink media
by Asia Art Center
Location: Asia Art Center
Artist(s): ZHENG Chongbin
Date: 5 Apr - 4 May 2014

In 2012, as celebration for the 100 anniversary of Rice University, James Turrell was commissioned to create a skyspace titled Twilight Epiphany that used LED light performance to complement the natural light present at sunrise and sunset, transforming the skyspace into a locale for contemplation and reflective interaction with the rest of the campus and the natural world.

Turrell once said: “This results in an art that is not about my seeing, it's about your direct perception of the work… Likewise, my interest in the perception of light is in giving it thingness.” Such awareness to context echoes the “moon in the water, object in the mirror” of Chinese classic Canglang Poetry Talks by Yu Yan. The Eastern aesthetic experience is further expanded through renowned Chinese contemporary artist Zheng Chongbin, who revolutionizes the expressive language and capability of Chinese traditional media – ink.

Traditionally trained in Chinese painting, Zheng began to paint abstract works in the 1980s. His works are visually powerful and are manifestations of the physical strength of the artist in action. Influenced by the school of abstract expressionist painting, Zheng uses bold, gestural strokes to create abstract imagery that explores the interplay between black and white. His works are seemingly monochromatic but upon close inspection they embody a myriad of textures as a result of the interaction between ink, brush and paper, creating a sense of spatial dimension through the layering ink and acrylic. “My intention,” says Zheng, “is to investigate the logic of the ink medium and its perceptual characteristics, the alternation between transcendence and the materiality of the work.” He was exposed to Californian sunshine and also influenced by the Californian Light and Space movement artists including James Turrell (b.1943), Robert Irwin (b.1928) and Doug Wheeler (b.1939), and influenced by their focus on perceptual phenomena including light, volume and scale and use of transparent, translucent or reflective material to heighten the viewer’s sensory and experience of light.

Zheng Chongbin’s unique hybrid visual language is a result of his personal experiences and diaspora position of negotiating “in-between” the physicality of light he is exposed to in California and understanding of his own ink medium conditioned by its cultural duality situated between two continents.

*image (left)
courtesy of the artist 

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