November 20, 2010–February 13, 2011

Fresh Ink

Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition
“. . .an ingenious and engrossing show.” -The New York Times

In this groundbreaking exhibition, contemporary Chinese ink painters engage in dialogue with classical artworks from China’s past. At the core of this exhibition’s concept is an artist-in-residency program. Leading artists from China and the Chinese diaspora have come to Boston to study the MFA’s superb collection of Chinese art, allowing them to create new works in direct response to the Museum’s permanent collection. In the exhibition, the new works and the masterpieces they refer to will be juxtaposed in the new Gund Gallery—the ancient will historicize the contemporary, while the contemporary will revitalize the ancient.

The MFA has selected ten artists who, despite their disparate backgrounds, are bound together by their deep engagement with traditional Chinese ink painting. A few of the artists work in quiet, contemplative modes, such as the landscape painters Li Huayi, Arnold Chang, Qiu Ting, Zeng Xiaojun, and Liu Dan. Some employ the large-scale and immediate impact of global contemporary art, such as Xu Bing and Qin Feng. The others, Yu Hong, Liu Xiaodong, and Li Jin, work with a keen eye for people and society. What is reflected in this group of artists, in their diverse backgrounds, and in their common connections to tradition, is a commitment to understanding the past while forging a vibrant future—a mission at the core not only of "Fresh Ink," but of contemporary China itself.

Read the October 2010 issue of Orientations magazine, which features an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition.

See more work by Li Huayi, Liu Dan, and other Chinese ink painters at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Massachusetts, through May 14, 2011. “Brush and Ink Reconsidered: Contemporary Chinese Landscapes” offers highlights from the Harvard Art Museums’ collection of Chinese ink paintings.

  • Ann and Graham Gund Gallery (Gallery LG31)