Nancy P. Lin
Advance Through Retreat: Yang Jiechang’s Hundred Layers of Ink (1989-1999)
Nancy P. Lin, University of Chicago
Chinese diaspora artists like Yang Jiechang 楊詰蒼 (b. 1956) pose a problem to art history because of its inability to situate him within an established discourse. This paper focuses on Yang’s Hundred Layers of Ink, a series of paintings executed in monochrome black Chinese ink on xuan paper, which he first created upon his move to Europe in 1989. Physically and metaphorically layered, the works operate on different registers of meaning that don’t easily resolve into one narrative. Reading the paintings as a form of artistic negotiation between the varying contexts the artist sought to occupy, this paper examines Yang’s re-thinking of the ink medium as a complex response to emigration that sought to deconstruct in order to reconstruct new coordinates for the artist’s practice outside of China, and for contemporary ink art more broadly.