China’s Lan Zhenghui unveils tall order at Hong Kong art fair

Lan Zhenghui with another of his his monumental installations. News Travels Fast image

Lan Zhenghui with another of his his monumental installations. News Travels Fast image


HONG KONG ─ Lan Zhenghui, one of China’s leading contemporary artists, debuts his majestic new installation Ink Monument at Art Central Hong Kong, on view through March 26 at the Central Harborfront.

Commissioned by Art Central’s selection committee, Lan Zhenghui’s installation Ink Monument towers more than 5 meters high, with a colossal four-sided column of large-scale ink paintings on rice paper. The artist created his new masterwork to express the power of sadness and an epic awareness of tragedy.

After Hong Kong Art Week, Lan will next embark on a U.S. tour that includes a second residency at Mana Contemporary co-sponsored by Ethan Cohen Fine Arts New York, and university lectures in multiple cities.

This is the second year that the Art Central selection committee has invited Lan Zhenghui for a major installation. At 2015’s Hong Kong Art Week, Ethan Cohen curated Lan’s installation titled Re-Think, which was well received in Hong Kong and was a highlight of the Art Central fair.

Lan is renowned for taking the freehand strokes of traditional Chinese painting to new, monumental levels by infusing them with the abstractions and expressiveness found in modern painting.

“The focus of my work is the profound consideration and the emotion of the ink,” says Lan Zhenghui. “What makes this new installation completely different for me is that I have been challenged by dimensions required by the selection committee and translating this into the necessary sense of space – to then construct a dignified phenomenon of transcending tragedy, representing the mortality we all face. I would have liked to reach higher to even greater heights.”

The source of the Lan’s inspiration is derived from ink. Occupying the aesthetic confluence between traditional Chinese ink painting and Western abstract expressionism, Lan Zhenghui’s work reinvents both.

He lets the ink follow and discover its own momentum in bold, kinetic, strokes. He has liberated ink from being determined by form. But the spirits of Chinese landscape linger like ghosts in the canvas. They haunt both the process – the brushstrokes, the vectoring – and the resulting shapes. Mountains, rivers, storms, even figures, surge and evaporate subliminally.

Ink Monument can be seen at Art Central’s Section P-10. Additional work by Lan Zhenghui can be seen at Art Central’s Booth B-5, presented by Ethan Cohen New York.

Born in Sichuan China in 1959, Lan graduated in 1987 from one of China’s most prestigious art academies, the Sichuan Academy of Art (famous alumni include Zhang Xiaogang and Zhou Chunya).

He has focused his career working in contemporary ink painting and calligraphy, and his powerful ink movement is based on more than 20 years of research for his vision of constructing art via ink traditions in new ways.

Known for monumental, large-scale abstract ink paintings, Lan’s work departs from Chinese ink traditions through his raw individualism, (a rarity in China), emotional expressiveness and physicality. This results in bold, varying densities of ink application and the artist splashing ink directly onto the paper.

Lan’s work has been shown extensively in China as well as worldwide.