Hao Liang - Streams and Mountains without End

Hao Liang, “Streams and Mountains without End” (detail) 2017
© Hao Liang

Hao Liang – Portraits and Wonders – Gagosian Gallery

Gagosian Gallery New York presents an exhibition of new works by Hao Liang, one of the foremost contemporary artists working in traditional Chinese ink painting. May 8–June 23, 2018.

Source: Gagosian Gallery New York

Seeking to revivify and extend the conventions of ink and wash painting, Hao spent many years studying Chinese classical paintings, acquiring vast knowledge of historical works, as well as the many motifs and poetic traditions related to them. Yet, in his silk handscrolls, portraits, and landscape paintings, Hao filters these techniques and themes through a contemporary cosmopolitan consciousness, effortlessly weaving together Su Shi and Shostakovich; Zhao Mengfu and Sergei Eisenstein; Wang Wei and Gilles Deleuze.

In this exhibition, which includes intricate, masterfully painted landscapes and portraits, Hao considers the perpetual flux of nature and time. “Streams and Mountains without End” (2017) is a silk scroll measuring more than thirty-seven feet. Departing from his previous narrative scrolls, Hao seeks to unite the details and symbols of traditional Chinese landscapes with twentiethcentury art theory, bringing together Ming dynasty scholar and artist Dong Qichang (1555–1636) and Russian modern artist Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) in a panoramic sweep. Reading from right to left, the viewer first encounters a man’s profile, an interlocutor between reality and representation. Implying multiple dimensions, various strange scenes unfurl and intersect. Mountains, trees, waves, and rolling clouds give way to sinuous patterns painted in gray, blue, green, and red, inspired by the muscular and vascular systems of human anatomy. Then, Kandinsky’s telescoping circles are launched into swirling orbit while a man in red views the scene from outer space, suggesting a divine, cosmic perspective. At the end of the scroll, the same figure from the beginning stands naked in a refracted abstract realm, looking back at a journey that is both micro- and macrocosmic.

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