Ink Paintings by 20 New York Artists
Costanza Baiocco
ART OF INK: A Western View Of Eastern Art
Costanza Baiocco PhD, JD

Long ago when I became enchanted by Asian art, held a Chinese brush for the first time and studied the masters assiduously, the question of subject matter haunted me for years. The unique configuration of Chinese mountains was nowhere to be found in my neck of the woods, nor philosophers meditating in serene landscapes. While encounters with exotic faces on a New York City subway was and is commonplace, the likeness of Daruma’s ink-splashed face was nowhere to be found there, nor in the hurly-burly crowds of Times Square.

My dilemma was how to take this very special aesthetic and make it relevant to my experiences as a 21 st century, American artist living in New York City. Thus my search began and ended many years later with the discovery of a visionary, Gan Yu, who believes Chinese brush painting is not limited by cultural and geographical boundaries. I am fortunate to study with this master who has a great influence on my work and my thinking.

To my knowledge there has not ever been a formal attempt to teach Chinese brush painting as an adaptation to the Western sensibility. No specific working definitions, no formulated system of principles and aesthetics, no record of identifiable characteristics exists. Yet something new is blossoming, a unique expression that is neither Western, nor Eastern but a fusion of both. It is a basic principle of anthropology that ideas metamorphose when they move around the globe. Shifts in perception and expression occur in those sites that are hospitable to a new idea. Eventually and inevitably the spirit of time and place influence the transplanted idea and give it a new voice. Such cross-pollination stimulates ingenuity, exploration and experimentation while maintaining a connection to its origins.

These are the hallmarks of Chinese brush painting as it is happening in the West today, not as a graft on the Western mind but a fusion that retains and expresses a lively wit, playful exploration and homage to those ancient Chinese masters that engendered a great beauty.




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