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Museum of Chinese in America opens "Oil & Water: Reinterpreting Ink"
Wei Jia at work.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Chinese in America presents a contemporary Chinese ink painting exhibition, Oil & Water: Reinterpreting Ink featuring the work of three notable artists Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia and Zhang Hongtu. The exhibition is on view from April 24, 2014 through September 14, 2014.

In conjunction with the exhibition, MOCA will present a symposium on Sunday, April 27. Combining scholarly presentations with open conversations between the artists and leading art historians, the symposium will unpack the critical importance of the ink genre. Artists, scholars, curators, writers, and art historians will discuss the trajectory of Chinese ink art from traditional landscape painting and calligraphy to the creative reinterpretation of these historic models. The day-long program includes panels, artists in conversation, and gallery tours. Panelists include Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, Zhang Hongtu, Melissa Chiu, Lilly Wei, John Rajchman, Julia F. Andrews, Kuiyi Shen, Joan Lebold Cohen, Richard Vine, Robert C. Morgan, Jerome Cohen, and Aileen Wang.

The works of Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu are integral to the continuing story of Chinese ink and contemporary art in general. Since its ancient and medieval incarnations, ink has served as the primary medium of Chinese visual arts. As a pillar of Chinese culture, ink has long united China's 'three artistic perfections': calligraphy, poetry and painting. For thousands of years in China, ink has been ubiquitous as an expressive medium, but by the mid-20th century, Chinese artists were interested in exploring Western art movements such as impressionism, abstract expressionism, minimalism, and post modernism. Through exploring the diametric poles of Chinese ink painting and the Western tradition of oil painting, the works of Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu took off in new directions.

Following their schooling during the Cultural Revolution in China, these three pioneering artists came to the United States in the 1980s seeking greater artistic freedom. Synthesizing ink painting techniques and influences from within the art scene in New York, each artist developed a unique visual vocabulary and technique that resisted easy categorization. Oil & Water will highlight significant works from these artists, spanning their mature careers from the 1980s to today.

"Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu came to America at a critical stage of their artistic journeys. They found creative communities here in New York and adapted to their new conditions in ways that clearly informed their work," according to Herb Tam, the Museum's Curator and Director of Exhibitions.

"Given the strong global interest in Chinese contemporary art today, the exhibition contributes to the conversation on the influence of contemporary art practices on the Chinese ink tradition and its place within the context of a historical paradigm," said Michelle Y. Loh, guest curator of Oil & Water.

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