Modern abstraction in recent Chinese painting.
Above: Lotus Pond II Liang Quan, 2016; Abstract 1985-5 Yu Youhan, 1985; Moderation Su Xiaobai, 2016; The world is yours, as well as ours Jiang Zhi, 2016
There is much to admire in the work of the nine Chinese artists in this group show. There is a curatorial leaning to monochromatic works but hints of blue and green surface. There has also been a decision by and large to show just two works by each practitioner. Being able to view a pair of images, allows for a greater first impression to many of these painters and the show rises above expectations because of it.
Chinese abstraction is part-based on the calligraphy of Taoist thought, it is practised widely and in parallel to more figurative pursuits. The journey of this work has played out in an entirely different way to that of Europe and America.
Liu Wentao's two pieces are a vortex of pencil lines; mathematical rhetoric in charcoal - they have an intensity and denseness unlike anything else currently on show in London. They shimmer slightly and reward closer inspection, different rhythms and pulses evident only through more concentrated looking.
Downstairs Tang Guo's ink work mixes chance and control with a careful balance forming an almost glass-like surface. Liang Quan produces circular forms collated from small straight horizontal and vertical brush marks, each surrounded by some space; they seem to suggest maps, walled citadels perhaps, routes through wilderness. Their titles do not refer to anything such but they are attractive and entice the eye.
Another highlight in the larger space is the work of Su Xiaobai. Familiar Chinese lacquerwork is used to surprising effect on canvases warped and extended into the third dimension. The canvases bulge and curve beyond the flattened surface - informed more by Buddhism than teachings of the Tao, there is a contrast of complexity in seemingly simple emptiness.
http://whitecube.com/exhibitions/the_world_is_yours_as_well_as_ours_masons_yard_2016/ until September 17th