Fresh Ink

When 20 Nov 2010
Where Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
United States
Enquiry 617-267-9300

Ten Takes on Chinese Tradition

November 20 – February 13 2010

Press Release:

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.

About the Artists:

Arnold Chang
• Born in 1954 in New York, where he currently resides
• MFA masterpiece: Number 10 (1949) by Jackson Pollock (1912–1956)
• Artist’s response: a landscape handscroll, Secluded Valley in the Cold Mountains (Collection of the Artist, 2008), and a preparatory sketch, Brushwork Study for Reorienting Pollock (Collection of the Artist, 2008)

Li Huayi
• Born in 1948 in Shanghai, lives in San Francisco
• MFA masterpiece: Nine Dragons (1244), a handscroll by Chen Rong (first half of the 13th century)
• Artist’s response: Dragon Amidst Mountain Ridges (Collection of Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang, 2009), a six-panel screen and a central hanging scroll

Li Jin
• Born in 1958 in Tianjin, where he still resides
• MFA masterpiece: Northern Qi Scholars Collating Classic Texts (11th century), traditionally attributed to Yan Liben (about 600–673)
• Artist’s response: Handscrolls, A New Take on Scholars Collating Classic Texts (Collection of the Artist, 2009) and hanging scrolls, Reminiscence to Antiquity I–VII (Promised Gift by the Artist, 2009)

Liu Dan
• Born in 1953 in Nanjing, now resides in Beijing
• MFA masterpiece: Honorable Old Man Rock (Rosenblum Family Collection, 17th century)
• Artist’s response: Nine life-sized portraits, each reflecting a different angle, titled Illusions of the Old Man Rock I–IX (The Xiling Collection, 2009), and a handscroll of imagined landscape, Ten Different Views of the Honorable Old Man, (Collection of the Artist, 2009)

Liu Xiaodong
• Born in 1963 in Liaoning Province, now lives in Beijing
• MFA masterpiece: Erlang and his soldiers driving out animal spirits (Ming dynasty, 15th century)

• Artist’s response: Painting, What to Drive Out? (MFA, Boston, 2008), with commentary written as colophons by nine teenagers from the Boston area. (Liu discusses his work in a podcast available on the MFA’s website,

Qin Feng
• Born in 1961 in Xinjiang Province, resides in Chelsea, MA, and Beijing
• MFA masterpiece: Fangyi-shaped Ritual Vessel (Late Shang dynasty to early Western Zhou dynasty, 11th century BC)
• Artist’s response: Installation of large folding books and hanging scrolls, Civilization Landscape (Collection of the Artist, 2009)

Qiu Ting
• Born in 1971 in Guangdong, resides in Beijing
• MFA masterpiece: Whiling Away the Summer by a Lakeside Retreat (1100) by Zhao Lingrang (late 11th–early 12th century)
• Artist’s response: Handscroll, Visit to the Eight Great Sites (Gift by Qiu Ting, 2009)

Xu Bing
• Born 1955 in Chongqing, lives in Beijing
• MFA masterpiece: the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (1923 edition based on its first edition published in late 17th century)
• Artist’s response: Printed scroll, Mustard Seed Garden Landscape Scroll (Promised Gift by the Artist, 2009)

Yu Hong
• Born in 1966 in Xian, lives in Beijing
• MFA masterpiece: Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk (early 12th century), attributed to Emperor Huizong (1082–1135)
• Artist’s response: Painting, Spring Romance (Collection of the Artist, 2009)

Zeng Xiaojun
• Born in 1954 in Beijing, where he lives
• MFA masterpiece: Handscroll, Nine Dragons (1244) by Chen Rong
• Artist’s response: Handscroll, Nine Trees (Collection of the Artist, 2009) and painted panels in a zitan wood screen, titled Dragon Screen (Collection of the Artist, 2009)
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