Wu Hung is Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Chinese Art History and Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago. An elected member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has published widely on both traditional and contemporary Chinese art, and has curated many influential contemporary art exhibitions. His recent publications on contemporary art include Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents (MoMA, 2010) and Contemporary Chinese Art: A History (Thames & Hudson, 2014).
Blackness (hei) and “Ink Images” (mo xiang)
This talk starts from a series of questions concerning a major trend in contemporary Chinese ink painting: What is the psychology behind a shared obsession with blackness in this trend? Why have so many “experimental ink painters” since the 1980s favored ink over brushstroke? (Quite a few of these artists have actually titled their works mo xiang or “ink images.”) Is this emphasis on blackness an isolated phenomenon specific to our time? Or is it the newest manifestation of a large pattern in Chinese art history? In responding to these questions, this talk will explore a conversation between these artists and tradition against a broad background of Chinese art history.