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The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+

M+, the highly anticipated museum of visual culture at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, will exhibit selections from its exceptional ink art collection for the first time this fall. The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+ will explore the pivotal role of ink art in global visual culture, offering fresh perspectives using cross-disciplinary and transnational approaches. The exhibition will run from October 13, 2017 to January 14, 2018 at the M+ Pavilion.

While ink art generally refers to visual works with lineage to ink painting and calligraphy in the Asian tradition, M+ is taking a more expansive view. Since the mid-20th century, many artists have committed to distinguishing their work from traditional ink art by devising enlightening and imaginative approaches to reflect upon and make use of that legacy. They have developed new expressions and techniques influenced by personal experiences and incorporated artistic tendencies and materials from outside of their own cultures. These cross-disciplinary and intercultural connections have kept ink art constantly evolving and are central to M+’s strategy for collecting and exhibiting ink art.

The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+ highlights the diverse explorations in ink art from the 1960s to the present day. It defines ink art not only through its materials, but also as an aesthetic in contemporary visual culture that encapsulates a wide range of applications and interpretations. The Weight of Lightness illustrates the tension at the core of ink art—between the material and the spiritual. This relationship permeates the thematic sections of the exhibition: “Scripts, Symbols, Strokes,” “Desire for Landscape,” and “Beyond Material.”

Featuring painting, calligraphy, installation, photography and moving image by 42 artists from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, India, U.S., Spain, and others, the exhibition underlines M+’s interest in making existing boundaries more porous and in showing that ink art—endowed with the weight of traditions yet invigorated by the lightness of its material and the experimental vision of artists—possesses boundless potential.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Etel Adnan, Irene Chou, Chuang Che, Hidai Nankoku, Hsiao Chin, Hung Fai, Ishimoto Yasuhiro, Kan Tai-keung, Koon Wai Bong, Frog King Kwok, Lee Ufan, Leung Kui Ting, Li Huayi, Liang Quan, Richard Lin, Liu Kuo-sung, Lui Shou-kwan, Nick Mauss, Ni Youyu, Nam June Paik, Park Seo-Bo, Krishna Reddy, José María Sicilia, Tong Yang-Tze, Wucius Wong, Xu Bing, Yang Jiechang, and many others.

Accompanying the exhibition is a series of public programmes that demonstrate ink art’s relevance to other forms of modern and contemporary artistic productions. These include “Imageries in Sound,” a playlist of contemporary compositions inspired by ink art, curated by Lei Liang, composer and Professor of Music, University of California, San Diego; commissioned dance performances in response to the exhibition at the M+ Pavilion by Hong Kong choreographer Allen Lam and by the students of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts; and M+ Screenings: Stillness in Motionwhich explores moving image works influenced by the contemplative nature of ink art.

The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+ is organized by Lesley Ma, Curator, Ink Art, with the support of Minnie Cheung and Jessie Kwok, Curatorial Assistants, Visual Art, and Sharon Lee, Research Assistant.

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