Fresh Ink at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Arnold Chang’s Take on Chinese Traditional Art
From “Fresh Ink,” Arnold Chang’s Secluded Valley in the Cold Mountains(detail), 2008, handscroll, is a response to Jackson Pollock’s classic drip painting Number 10. COURTESY MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
Convergence: Number 10, 1952, Jackson Pollock
I had but a minute to peer into this exhibit that last time that I went to the MFA with my family. The kids wanted to find a hand-on craft making postcards and the MFA had just opened their newest wing so we were all turned around. Searching for that elusive room was the only opportunity to see any art so I was happy that the way was long and circuitous because once we found our destination, my husband and I sat outside the room (it was crowded) and waited for them.
“Fresh Ink features 10 pairings of classic and contemporary works among the approximately 40 pieces (including preparatory sketches and woodblocks by the artists) in the exhibition. The masterpieces chosen from the Museum’s collection vary in age, medium, and culture. They span 3,000 years, from an 11th-century BC bronze vessel, to paintings on silk from the Song Dynasties period (AD 960–1268), to a Jackson Pollock canvas of 1949. The new works also range widely in format, from traditional handscrolls, hanging scrolls, and carved wooden screens, to silk banners and monumental folding books.” from MFA press release
What is interesting to me is that Arnold Chang is the only person in this group of Chinese artists who was born and raised in the United States and yet his work is on the traditional side. Is it like home cooks, where the good cooks skip a generation? Grandma is a great cook, so mom doesn’t have to cook, and the grandchild wants to both eat and learn to cook at grandma’s? Not that the other artists (Li Huayi, Li Jin, Liu Dan, Liu Xiaodong, Qin Feng, Qiu Ting, Xu Bing, Yu Hong, Zeng Xiaojun) aren’t good, most are just less traditional.
-Born in 1954 in New York, where he currently resides
-MFA masterpiece: Number 10 (1949) by Jackson Pollock (1912–1956
-Artist’s response: a landscape handscroll, Secluded Valley in the Cold Mountains (Collection of the Artist, 2008), and a preparatory sketch, Brushwork Study for Reorienting Pollock (Collection of the Artist, 2008)
Just because my blog is new, I’m going to post this and email Arnold Chang to see if he’ll agree to an interview to learn more about his life and how he became an artist. Wish me luck!
What do you think of these Chinese paintings? Do you prefer traditional Chinese art or contemporary?