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Chen JiaLing

Within China's thriving art scene, some native artists are devoting themselves to reviving traditional arts through international communication. In this way, the "Shanghai's new ink painting" style was born, which is an innovation of Chinese ink painting, one deeply rooted in Chinese history, concepts and tradition.

Chen Jialing is a leading figure of "Shanghai's new ink painting". He earned his reputation by using a new technique of applying ink to rice paper. With clean colors and simple images, his works seem to create a soothing effect of misty serenity.

Fan Di'an, the curator of China National Museum of Fine Arts, speaks highly of Chen Jialing's contribution to innovating traditional Chinese ink painting.

"After China's reform and opening up, Chinese painters have faced all kinds of tasks. And one of the most important tasks was to innovate this old art while inheriting the fine tradition. Chen Jialing, a well-known artist of China's contemporary art, has made a big contribution to this task. His works convey a brand-new zeitgeist and provide a visual feast. This exhibition is a showcase of his explorations into ink painting over the decades."

Chen Jialing's works have always had a foothold in modern concepts. Thus, he is capable of arousing strong feelings in his audience.

"His works are fresh, elegant and simple. They are different from traditional Chinese paintings. They transport viewers immediately into a world of simplicity and purity. Anyway, I think many girls will like these paintings."

Chen Jialing began to explore new painting techniques back in the 1980s. He says the social environment at that time influenced the innovation.

Born in east China's Zhejiang Province, Chen Jialing graduated from Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. He studied under the master painter Pan Tianshou. His painting "Lotus", applying new techniques, won the silver award at the National Painting Exhibition in 1989. His works went on to achieve international acclaim. They have been exhibited around the world and are favored by collectors worldwide. Ethan Cohen Fine Arts is the first gallery specializing in contemporary Chinese art in the United States. Its publication entitled "Chinese paintings after 1949", features Chen's painting on the book's cover.

In Chen Jialing's Lotus painting, he uses semicircles and light ink to symbolize the lotus leaves. This light ink takes up almost the whole painting. The flowers seem to breathe with life.

Sometimes his lines appear almost childishly clumsy, but his works convey a unique aesthetic and the leisurely attitude of the painter. His themes ponder ancient Chinese philosophy.

"In my works, I am in pursuit of variations, featuring a return to nature. In recent years, I've always been in search of new materials. The new materials can help generate my new techniques and therefore create new visual effects."

Talking about his new painting skills, Chen Jialing says he just developed a painting material that other Chinese artists haven't made full use of.

"Traditional Chinese ink painting focused on skillfully wielding brushes on rice paper with lines and dots. But in my works, I have taken full advantage of the unique characteristics of rice paper. Since rice paper is very sensitive, ink bleeds easily on it, displaying complex shade variations with translucent fluidity. The spontaneous effect is also a kind of art form."

Chen Jialing often says he is painting along with God.

"On one hand, I am painting with a brush; on the other hand, the rice paper is also 'painting' spontaneously. It seems like we two are playing a game with each other. So I say I am painting along with God."

However, there are some people who still consider Chen Jialing's boneless paintings are at odds with traditional Chinese paintings which feature the skill of using a brush. But he thinks the essence of Chinese painting is to show the artistic conception and artists' inner world with different skills.

"Tradition and innovation are not opposed to each other. Both of them are important to human beings. We should inherit good traditions while improving some of them. Moreover, innovation embodies human wisdom. In this way, we can lead a better life."

In China, there are also many artists who are devoted to evolving the classical brush-and-ink tradition into a truly contemporary art form. With their efforts, more and more Chinese paintings are showcased in worldwide renowned galleries and attract visitors from various cultural backgrounds. Hopefully among all those dedicated artists, we will find more bold innovators, like Chen Jialing, who will diversify the traditional ways of making art.

Born in 1937, is a native of Yong Kang, Zhejiang province. He is now a member of the Chinese Artists Association and a Chinese painting instructor at the College of Fine Arts of Shanghai University.

He graduated from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine arts in 1963. At the beginning, he learned figure painting, later on he learned from Lu Yanshao calligraphy, skills of painting landscapes and flowers-and-birds in the early 70s. Since the 80s, by passing through a repeatedly research and practice as well as assimilating the skill of Chinese ancient murals and foreign watercolor paintings, he has created the kind of modern Chinese paintings which expressing the Chinese philosophic theory and featuring impressionism, abstractionism and expressionism.

Chen is fond of painting lotus and landscape. Most of his works reflect a dreamlike world expressing an implicit theme which also protruding the spirit of noble and graceful, furthermore bringing out a powerful artistic influence.