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Interchange: Flowers Fall Beyond the Edge of the Sky

by Richard Wearn, Professor of Art

California State University, Los Angeles


Synthesizing the fluidity and materiality associate with Chinese Ink Art and the spontaneous immediacy of Abstract Expressionism, Hongbo has created a masterwork that resonates within both cultural traditions. Ink Art has the longest history of any visual art produced by any culture. Its artistic output is matched with an equally prolific scholarship that has accumulated over the centuries into a deeply nuanced constellation of ideas that are re-consumed by each successive generational wave of artist. As wider understanding of Ink Art has entered western critical consciousness attendant to art, and the contemporary attitudes that characterize art in the west gain influence among Chinese Artists, the central question produced within scholarship pertaining to Ink Art asks how a contemporary artist operating in this medium may critically progress it, given its tradition heavy narrative?


Hongbo maintains studios in Los Angeles and Shenzhen, travelling frequently between them. He is enabled to imagine a culture that does not exist anywhere, that is without a territory, that is sensory and experiential nonetheless. It is a dream space. His cultural space is thus a floating ontological world that he has manifest into a uniquely authentic practice. What is known, and what is immediately experienced enables a spontaneity that we witness through his handling of materials that within themselves are ‘informe’ and without habituation. Ink is a medium that is boundless, it is amorphous and unpredictable. Hongbo’s process is immediate and energized, it is not only an interplay of cultural subjectivities, but also a legitimate liberation of a tradition through his skillful and innovative removal of the constraints of a medium.

Interchange: Flowers Fall beyond the Edge of the Sky is the most powerful work produced by one of the leaders of contemporary Chinese Ink Art. It is endowed with a pure beauty that is universal and that is not culturally specific nor dependent upon context. The vertical panels align to create a horizontal metaphysical vista that open the viewer to an amorphous and organic experience that is suggestive of a nebula – a coming to form, as opposed to a predetermined formal organization. Hongbo provides us with a viewing of a space that is relieved of rational limitation, the fluidity of Ink and the absorbent qualities of the ground produce a soaking effect that evoke an aesthetic equivalent of the quantum, somehow capturing the rhizomic distributional nature of our universe. Hongbo has produced a work that is in and of itself – and in so doing presented a universal patterning of energy accumulations and flows. Any form of tradition or system of historic organization is subsumed by a greater universe, that being the inter-relationship of action, resistance and matter. Interchange: Flowers Fall beyond the Edge of the Sky is a work that offers us a tangible configuration of the underlying energies that form our reality. It is pure and potent abstraction, a window onto the morphogenic space that is simultaneously inherent to us and the world around us.

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