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"Memories of the Past": Morlan exhibit of world-class contemporary Chinese ink brush paintings runs October 29 through November 30

Memories of the PastLEXINGTON, Ky.—A world-class exhibition, “Memories of the Past: Contemporary Chinese Ink Painting,” opens Oct. 29 in Transylvania University’s Morlan Gallery. The exhibit, curated by eminent Asian art historian Kuiyi Shen, features 15 internationally recognized contemporary Chinese artists and runs through Nov. 30.

The featured artists are from mainland China, the United States and Taiwan, and include Xu Bing, Pan Gongkai, Lu Fusheng, Wang Dongling, Zhang Yu, Wang Tiande, Qiu Deshu, Feng Bin, Xu Lei, Li Huayi, Zhang Hong, Wu Yi, Zheng Chongbin, Li Huai and Luo Qing.

“This selection of contemporary ink art represents the highest caliber work by important Chinese artists working in the medium today,” said Julia F. Andrews, an expert in Chinese painting and modern Chinese art, who has written extensively on the subject and curated many important exhibitions in the United States, France and China. “The paintings in the exhibition present an extremely refreshing, even surprising, view of the many ways Chinese artists are finding to build upon and surpass their tradition. The power of these images testifies both to the contemporary quality of contemporary ink painting and to the continued vitality of an art form that has flourished in China for a millennium.”

Morlan Gallery Director Andrea Fisher credits Transylvania art history professor Wei Lin for orchestrating an exhibition of this caliber. “Dr. Lin is a scholar who specializes in Asian art history and has worked closely with Dr. Shen to bring the work of these 15 artists to Lexington,” she said. “’Memories of the Past’ attempts to present the complex development of Chinese contemporary art and redefine the meaning of contemporary in ink brush painting. By breaking our own visual misconceptions and boundaries about Chinese art we gain a clearer understanding of China—her art, culture and her place on the international stage.”

Exhibition curator Shen is director of the Chinese Studies Program and professor of art history, theory and criticism at the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses on Chinese art and Sino-Japanese cultural exchange of the twentieth century. Among the exhibitions he has curated are “A Century in Crisis: Tradition and Modernity in the Art of Twentieth Century China” held at the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, Spain, and “Reboot: The Third Chengdu Biennial” in Chengdu, China.

Among Shen’s numerous publications on modern and contemporary Chinese art are “A Century in Crisis: Tradition and Modernity in the Art of Twentieth Century China” (1998), “The Thunder and the Rain: Chinese Paintings from the Opium War to the Cultural Revolution” (2000) and “Arts of Modern China” (forthcoming). He is a recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Social Science Research Council, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Stanford University and Leiden University.

Of ink brush painting Shen says, “In recent years, as China has experienced a dramatic economic boom, the country’s contemporary art has become the object of widespread international interest. A significant segment of the Chinese art scene has, however, largely escaped notice. Although it is deeply rooted in traditional Chinese art in terms of form, theme and materials, and although its practice enjoys unflagging popularity, it has not received the attention it deserves as an aspect of the study of contemporary art.”

Special events (all free and open to the public)

Friday, Oct. 29, 6-8 p.m.
Opening reception with special guests, exhibit curator, Kuiyi Shen, and Julia F. Andrews, the noted Chinese painting and modern Chinese art specialist, author and curator.

Monday, Nov. 8, 2:30-4 p.m. in Cowgill Center, room 102
An ink brush painting demonstration will be given by noted Chinese artist Zheng Chongbin. The Shanghai born artist works in San Francisco and Shanghai, and graduated from the China Academy of Fine Art in 1984, then completed a Master of Fine Arts in 1989 at the San Francisco Art Institute as a First International Fellow. Trained in traditional Chinese painting, Zheng has increasingly broken away from traditional Asian art to contemporary art. Following his first solo contemporary ink painting show at the Shanghai Art Museum 1988, Zheng moved to the United States where he continues his artistic practice.  

Although his primary medium is contemporary ink, his works range in media, including installation, ceramic and video. He has exhibited his work internationally, including the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, the Asian Pacific Museum, Chengdu Biennial (China), Taipei Ink painting Biennial (Taiwan), Busan International Modern Ink Painting Exhibition (S. Korea), Valentine Willie Fine Arts (Singapore), Hochschuel Fur Bildende Kunst (Germany) and the Zendai Contemporary Art Exhibition Hall (China). Most recently, he has been commissioned by Moshe Safdie Associate and the Sands Corporation to create one of largest permanent site-specific installation projects in Singapore.

Monday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m. in Carrick Theater
Art historian, critic and curator Kuiyi Shen will discuss contemporary Chinese artwork. A reception will follow in the Morlan Gallery.

Friday, Nov. 19, 5-8 p.m. in Morlan Gallery
The exhibition will be open for the Lexington Gallery Hop.

The gallery will be closed November 24-26 for the Thanksgiving holiday. Regular gallery hours are weekdays 12-5 p.m., or by special appointment For more information, contact gallery director Andrea Fisher at 233-8142 or

Memories of the Past