Finnish, Chinese artists have "dialogue of ink"
03 Feb 2019, 19:39
Pointing to a series of black and white figure sketches hung on the wall, Finnish visual artist Mia Waire said she painted them specifically with ink to meet the requirement for artists to participate in the ongoing Finland-China Contemporary Ink Art Exhibition in Helsinki.
Waire told Xinhua that she had used a sharpened reed straw, dipped in the ink, to quickly record the momentary movements of the model. She said the ink is a sensible medium and can produce artistic effects that oil painting cannot achieve.
Graduating from Vantaa Vocational collage Varia and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Finland, Waire started with painting ink as a student of visual artist Aino Ulmanen at the Free Art School in 2009. "The ink is organic, made from ash, and also my tool is organic, and the paper that I use is organic as well," said Waire.
"The combination of these organic elements is fascinating to go back in the history and think how these elements have been used already thousands of years ago in ancient China or Egypt," she said.
Mikko Ilmari Hallikainen, another Finnish artist, has applied Chinese ink since 1993. He told Xinhua that he has been making ink himself, using burned charcoal mixed with soya source, red wine and coffee.
The rewarding artist presented several ink paintings at the exhibition, one of them named Quasimodo. The graffiti style painting was most appreciated by Yu Cun, a retired professor of Chinese painting.
Yu said Hallikainen was probably inspired by American graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, with the ability to express his consciousness thoroughly while at the same time knowing how to better control the emotional expression.
The depiction of the "bell tower geek" in the novel Notre Dame de Paris reflects the concern of the bottom of society, Yu explained.
Yu has been engaged in art teaching for 36 years and has just retired from a professorship in an art school in southern China. Although he does not know any foreign languages, he likes to put foreign words in his paintings after looking them up in English, Korean, Japanese, Greek and Finnish dictionaries.
Participating in the ongoing exhibition, Yu presented the image of Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on a piece of rice paper. The relaxed and humorous style was beloved by the audience.
"It doesn't matter if the language works or not. The innocent nature of people is the same. My work expresses the original nature, so I think this is the reason why my works are well received by foreign counterparts," Yu told Xinhua.
Ink, as an ancient medium for brush painting and calligraphy in East Asia, has been introduced to the West for decades, adding unique senses and more diversities to modern artistic creation, said Rain Lin, a Finnish Chinese artist and the organizer of the event.
The exhibition, which collects 50 pieces of ink art works from two Finnish, four Chinese, one Canadian Chinese, one American Chinese, one French Chinese and a Finnish Chinese, is supposed to serve as a platform to show the diversity in defining the ink by artists from various backgrounds and to provide an opportunity for the exchange of their views. It was opened on Dec. 15 last year and will end on Feb. 15 this year.
"I hope this will broaden their horizons and help the cultural communication between the east and the west," said Lin.
Hallikainen said the Chinese have a long history of using ink. "In this exhibition they have succeeded very well in taking the history into consideration and also overcome the limitation of Chinese ink painting," he said.
He believed the historical mind and modern thoughts could enable the Chinese artists to find more common grounds with Western contemporary artists.
Hallikainen's favorite was "Portrait", presented by Chinese artist Liang Yue, saying that the painter used lighter ink to provide a backdrop to highlight the heavier ink, which makes the painting more impressive.
Hallikainen and Waire both believed that ink is a pure natural material with strong expressiveness and is therefore popularly used by contemporary artists.
Liang said that ink is not only a painting material, but a form of expression as well. While Chinese artists are learning the oil paintings, western artists are also learning from the techniques of Chinese ink painting. If Chinese painters care more about the happenings around the people, they will find themselves more easily to integrate into the modern world.