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Best Five Contemporary Ink Artists To Place Your Bets On

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The colorful clutter of our art today is a reincarnation of global phenomena such as cultural collision, political conflict and economic competition, and Asia is undoubtedly the fastest and most colorful continent in the process of globalization of today’s world.

However, Asia with its modern super metropolis is recognized not only because of its size, its huge population and its economic status, more importantly, its contemporary art; because Asia has become a veritable international continent of art and culture. Meanwhile, centuries-old artistic traditions, such as ink-wash painting and ceramics, remain dear and deeply ingrained in the culture.

Ranging in age from those in their 20s to those in their 50s, the artists that follow are all affected and influenced by the country’s recent events and ancient artifacts. From the ultra famous to the super fresh, they deal with the constantly shifting current of Chinese society, politics, and economy, while maintaining a connection to the country’s deep cultural roots.

While the market does embrace the paintings by Japanese and other Asian artists, the Chinese have led the way in establishing their genre’s aesthetic values and cultural significance. Chinese contemporary ink artists are extremely appreciable to the current Chinese society as they represent the link between China’s great past and the galloping tempo towards its future.

Since the early 2000s the market demand for Chinese Contemporary Ink paintings has grown rapidly and artists such as Liu Dan or Liu Kuo-Sung have become Chinese art stars. Nonetheless, their works still lie in an affordable price range making them a great collectible and investment for Asian as well as Western collectors.

Earlier in October, a record price was paid for a piece of art by the late modern Japanese calligrapher Inoue Yuichi. Although the market for contemporary ink artwork is still in its infancy, an increasing number of Hong Kong auction houses, galleries and museums are now hosting exhibitions to cater to the growing number of collectors and enthusiasts.

“In each of our curated thematic auctions we continue to attract new buyers from around the world – on average, one in five buyers are new to Sotheby’s,” Katherine Don, head of contemporary ink art at Sotheby’s Hong Kong says. “This is very exciting for growing the awareness for such an important cultural part of art history today.” The selling exhibition, Eternal Water, presented by Sotheby’s Hong Kong goes until October 30. It is focusing mainly on the works of the acclaimed Hong Kong-based painter Wucius Wong over the past six decades.

Another exhibition, The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+, at the M+ Pavilion, runs until January 14 which examines the diverse changes and developments that have taken place over the past 60 years.

If you are interested in placing your bets on owning some ink art then we have put up a list of five contemporary Asian ink artists to invest in.


1- Liu Kuo-sung


The artist Liu Kuo-Sung


Liu Kuo-sung born 26 April 1932 is a Taiwanese artist based in Shanghai and Taoyuan, Taiwan. Liu is widely regarded as one of the earliest and most important advocates and practitioners of modernist Chinese painting. Liu is the principal founder of the Wuyue Huahui (Fifth Moon Group), which catalyzed the modernist art movement and brought renewal to traditional Chinese paintings and incorporated Western art concepts and techniques, successfully placing ink painting on the path to modern innovation, for which he has been called the father of modern ink painting.


The Smoke


He helped develop special techniques like shuitou or water rubbing where patterns made by dropping ink into water are copied onto paper. Another technique is zimo or steeped ink,  where ink paintings made on a hard surface are copied onto paper.


2- Wucius Wong




The artist himself


Wucius Wong was born in 1936 in Guangdong Province, China, and moved to Hong Kong at a very young age. Started as a self- taught artist and attracted to Western modernism. Wong has received numerous honours for his far-reaching influence on contemporary ink art, including the Bronze Bauhinia Star from the Hong Kong Government in 2007. The abstract art of Wucius Wong has a powerful, mysterious quality, being at once vigorously captivating and elusively atmospheric.


Wong at work


Often compared to the classical Chinese landscape painters of the Northern Song dynasty, the artist has mastered the ability to evoke the deeply spiritual and poetic within his sweeping ink works. Perhaps the most affecting element is his startling clarity in capturing fleeting moments within nature, which have the ability to transcend the purely physical and translate into raw emotion.



3- Inoue Yuichi



Inoue Yuichi


Inoue Yuichi, was a Japanese avant-garde calligrapher, who explored the human’s primitive impulse on the conflict between authority and everyday-life. Yuichi became widely known to the world after the 4th São Paulo Art Biennial in 1954. Yuichi significantly developed an innovative form of sho that would contend with the wide-spread Euro-American abstraction expressionism in the modern art history.


The contemporary ink art


After experimenting with non-textual abstract art and using enamel paint rather than the ink of calligraphy tradition, he then realized that once calligraphy strays from its textual base, it ceases to hold any value for existing.This realization led him back to working with brush and ink and the development of his own unique art rhetoric which is now compared to those of Americans Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell and the Belgian Pierre Alechinsky.



4- Li Jin



The gentle breeze by Li Jin


Li Jin is one of the most important of China’s traditional brush painters working today, born in Tianjin in 1958. The artist draws from and subverts the tradition of Chinese literati painting to create thoroughly contemporary works dealing with the banality of everyday life. His paintings are populated with imperfect characters going about their daily life. Semi-naked figures and food have prominent roles in the witty paintings of contemporary Chinese life by Li.



5- Gu Wenda



The artist Wenda Gu


Gu Wenda born 1955, Shanghai  is a contemporary artist from China who lives and works in New York City. Much of his works play off of traditional Chinese calligraphy and poetry. Gu’s work today focuses extensively on ideas of culture, and his identity. He tends not to discuss or compare himself to other Chinese artists, and much of his work does not seek to embrace nor rebel against Chinese traditions.


“Man and space” by Wenda Gu


His work with human hair, including paintings created with a brush made from human hair, painted in public, continues the theme of the United Nations and seeks to evoke thoughts of human identity and unity. He has helped to redefine ink art and the ink medium.


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