Fabulous faker

By GREG COOK  |  December 31, 2007

Harvard curator Robert Mowry and two outside curators have assembled 63 ink paintings from the collection of Chu-tsing Li, their former professor of Chinese art at the University of Kansas. The paintings range from uptight realist renderings of a bowl of tofu to fussy, splashy abstractions that feel inspired by abstract expressionism, but also with echoes of traditional Chinese ink washes.

More successful are the calligraphic ink paintings that take off from traditional landscapes. Yu Chengyao builds dense lines and washes to create chiseled canyons and a patchwork of mountains. Xia Yifu’s 1988 Landscape is built from lots of fine lines, which give the high snowy peaks appearing out of clouds a hyper-realist feel.

Others push Chinese painting’s traditional loose brushwork toward the cartoony. The boats, cormorants, windswept trees, and house in Li Huasheng’s 1985 Return from Fishing are rendered in a jaunty, loose, brushy style that recalls a child’s drawing. In Wan Qingli’s 1983 Clearing after Snow, a waterfall cascades from mountains, disappears into mist, and reappears as an icy blue river winding through a bare wood. It’s done in a blocky graphic style that recalls Ben Shahn. Chen Qikuan’s Monkeys (probably 1989) looks at first like calligraphy, but on second glance is a gang of cute, doodly monkeys.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  | 
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Harvard University, Painting, Visual Arts,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY GREG COOK
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEEING ANEW  |  July 09, 2014
    The aim of the RISD Museum’s eight newly renovated galleries for its permanent collection of fashion and Egyptian and Asian art seems to be “quiet contemplation.”
  •   BRIGHTNESS AND DARKNESS  |  June 25, 2014
    Constellations of mirror ball clouds dangle from the ceiling on pink cords at the center of the room and slowly rotate and sparkle. You’re invited to peer though weird, lumpy crystal-telescope-things.
  •   FIGHTING THE POWER  |  June 18, 2014
    It was around 1983 when Providence artist James Montford and a friend posed as photographers to check out the Ku Klux Klan rally in Norwalk, Connecticut.
  •   'VERY PROVIDENCEY'  |  June 11, 2014
    “World building” is an idea that percolates — perhaps unconsciously — through the visionary end of the Providence art scene.
  •   HISTORY LESSON  |  June 04, 2014
    The portrait of the sculptor Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890-1960) that emerges from the small exhibit “Delicious Sensation of Rightness,” at the John Brown House, is fuzzy.

 See all articles by: GREG COOK