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Strokes of genius test imagination

By Xu Wenwen (Shanghai Daily)

10:35, March 07, 2012

Contemporary painter Zhang Hao's solo exhibition "Spiritual Journey" is underway at the Sanshang Contemporary Art Museum. Photo /Shanghai Daily

Chinese calligraphy is frequently called abstract art but the exhibition "Spiritual Journey" is a collection of extra-large bold, dark strokes that do not convey particular meaning in Chinese characters but invite the viewers to find their own meaning.

The water-and-ink "Spiritual Journey" by contemporary painter Zhang Hao is the first solo show in the exhibition series "Decanter Ink" underway at the Sanshang Contemporary Art Museum in Hangzhou through March 14.

Characters are deconstructed into brush strokes that are then abstracted and recombined into various non-linguistic structures that overlap, crisscross or exist alone on rice paper. Their new meaning remains to be determined.

The paintings average 2 meters long and 1.5 meters wide, all in black and white, using Chinese ink only. They are not simply "hung" on walls, but use the entire exhibition space for "mounting." Some of the pictures extend from the wall onto the floor at a 45-degree angle, creating unusual visual effects and perceptions.

"I structure my paintings by observing myself, and I call that a spiritual journey," according to artist Zhang, a professor of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and the headmaster of the middle school attached to the academy.

"I cannot bear to see the decline of Chinese painting," he says. "I am obsessed with the art of water and ink."

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