Melissa Burgess / Staff Writer
The traditional art of calligraphy in China offers a visual syntax for communication through a combination of aesthetic and spiritual precision, but for Chinese abstract ink brush artist Lan Zhenghui, he uses traditional black ink to reflect emotional expressionism in this art.
Lan presented his lecture “Splashing Ink” at FIU on Thursday, April 7 at the W-9 Painting Studio and exhibited his installation R32.
Lan Zhenghui is a critically acclaimed Chinese contemporary ink artist, who was one of the first artists to experiment with ink based, conceptual art installations. He is known for his monumental, large-scale abstract ink paintings and departs from Chinese ink traditions through his raw individualism, emotional explosions and physicality.
Lidu Yi, an assistant professor in Asian Art and Pip Brant, an associate professor for Fiber Art and Painting organized this cultural initiative to bring the famed artist to Miami.
“Inviting him to FIU is part of my art and education program. I want to use art as a tool and incorporate that into my class and my teaching. Lan’s art is monumental, majestic, very powerful, very expressive and I want more students to see that here. I want to see my students influenced by art and that art can change their lives,” said Yi.
In addition to his lecture, Lan presented a demonstration of his method of the way he creates art, but also explained the resources he uses to make his installations.
Staying true to Chinese painting tradition, he uses only black ink and water on Xuan paper taking freehand brushstrokes of traditional Chinese painting but infuses new monumental levels of body motions and expressiveness found in modern painting.
“I grew up in Chinese culture and rice paper and ink are the most authentic materials used in art. Plus, I have been pushing forward expressionism of ink painting, having the world understand it and like it. I focus on it now, without considering being decentralized to other materials,” said Lan.
“It was so inspiring when he demonstrated the way he used ink and emphasized his body movement. As well as how he applied the brush to the paper while simultaneously explaining how that helped express his message,” said Crystal Rodriguez, a junior majoring in Advertising and Graphic Design.
Lan said that his art is inspired by Western Art and Chinese tradition but also by his own background. He was born in Sichuan China in 1959 and graduated in 1987 from one of China’s most prestigious art academies Sichuan Academy of Art.
“As a teenager I went to college to study engineering, which laid a foundation for my traditional thinking and decision making. When I was 20 years old, by pure chance I decided to switch the direction to art. A few years later, luckily I was accepted by Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. By the 90’s I was a professional artist,” he said.
When asked by a student if his art was inspired by personal emotions or political reasons, Lan said his art was inspired by his moods.
“My art is personal. It’s inspired by my loneliness, my mood, my emotions, or when I feel hopeless or other powerful emotions. Splashing ink is powerful and it helps express what I have to say or how I feel,” he said.
Most Recently, Lan’s work has been featured in the all over the U.S, including a traveling exhibition titled 28 Chinese. This was an exhibition of Chinese artists gathered by American collectors Don and Mera Rubell after 10 years of visiting artists’ studios in China and was first launched during Miami’s Art Basel.
“Miami has played a vital role to develop global art and culture. The prestigious collection of the Rubell Family in Miami collected my works in 2011, so it’s good to be back in Miami,” said Lan, “A few years ago in China, Yi and some students made a special visit to my studio in Beijing and some students also write articles of my heavy ink painting as a research topic, so I put the first stop of my university lecture in America at FIU,” he said.
Yi said her initiative to invite Lan to FIU was a way to change her students lives with art and to be inspired by his devotion and dedication as an artist.
“Students should also look at artists from the other side of the globe. It is so important for them. I also think that it’s important for students to see a unique and very different artist from China. I think Lan adds a different color to the Miami artistic tapestry,” said Yi.
“His uniqueness of combining the tradition and creating something new is very different. His artwork even though he is a Chinese artist, he is so global and so international. Without his name on the art, you wont say ‘oh this is by a Chinese artist’. The new visual language that he creates is very unique. He goes to extremes. It’s unrestrained, natural, wild, majestic, and most of all his ink art speaks a very expressive and very emotional. I love his artwork,” said Yi.
[Photo by Melissa Burgess/ The Beacon]