Amassing the Essence: Thirty Years of Paintings by Liang Quan


Amassing the Essence: Thirty Years of Paintings by Liang Quan


Artist: Liang Quan

Curator Chia Chi Jason Wang

Opening: 27th June, 2015 16:00

Exhibition Dates: 2015.6.27–7.27


Hive Center for Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the opening of Amassing the Essence: Thirty Years of Paintings by Liang Quan on 27th June, 2015, the exhibition will present his most important works since 1982 in our 5 exhibition halls, reviewing systematically the concept of his artistic practice, and exploring the method of his practice and the causes of his aesthetics. The exhibition is curated by Chia Chi Jason Wang, a renowned scholar from Taiwan, and it will last till the 27th July.


Liang Quan is one of the first batch of Chinese contemporary artists who studied in the United States after the Cultural Revolution, and he also is one of the first artists who have engaged in abstract works. The utilization of the rhetoric of dual East-West cultural heritage and intertextuality became the crux of establishment of Liang’s artistic style. Through the path of form, he retained his focus on Western modernity and contemporaneity, while the works also gradually constructed a system that differs from Western art. Drawing the experience of Western contemporary art, at the same time, he is also an artist who has used this path to travel against the current to the wellspring of Chinese art, in order to demonstrate the oriental essence of contemporary art.


Born in 1948, with ancestral home in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, Liang Quan grew up in Shanghai. In 1964 he was admitted to the Affiliated High School of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art). In 1981 Liang Quan went to the United Sates to study printmaking at the Academy of Art College, San Francisco. In 1984, Liang Quan returned to China and took a teaching position in the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts printmaking department. In 1995 he left teaching to become a full-time painter at the Shenzhen Fine Art Institute in Guangdong. Liang Quan participated La Grande Astrazione Celeste ( Italy and China), Biennale of Sydney(Australia)and other important international exhibitions, he has featured solo exhibitions at the University of San Diego (U.S.A.), Mies van Der Rohe Haus(Germany), Kunst House(Germany), etc.


Liang Quan always hoped to revive the spirit of artistic refinement in the Chinese cultural tradition, pursuing profundity within the everyday and seeking to glimpse the innate beauty of nature. From 1985 to 2000, he had a period of “manipulating a riot of colors.” and based on the stylistic traits of these works, we can call it his “heavy color period.” Liang Quan’s works in this period are full of chance collages of heterogeneous objects, such as prints or rubbings serving as cultural or symbolic signifiers, which actually mix in a variety of cultural signifiers reflecting the phenomenal world, unavoidably project or allude to his own implicit feelings and thoughts about family, society, nation, history and tradition. Starting in 2000 he incorporated tea into his paintings, subtly encompassing his own philosophical perspective and life aesthetics within his works. He no longer focused on such phenomena in his art. Instead, he started putting in order his own states of mind and attitudes toward life. This was the true beginning of his abstract art. Returning from surface form to essence, returning from confusion and disorder to a calm, untroubled state, Liang Quan had found creative belonging, after coming to understand his destiny.


Using different variations in the color of tea, as well as collages of absorbed ink and pigment, Liang Quan composed uniformly delicate abstract images. This mode of formative expression is reminiscent of the ancient Chinese aesthetics of porcelain, and the subtle color gradations that occur in tea tasting, when the hues of the tea blend with the soft tones of the porcelain cup. This small-scale aesthetic of the cadence of color is purely East Asian, indeed unique to China. Forming a bridge with this traditional, distinctive aesthetic history through his art is Liang Quan’s most important contribution to contemporary Chinese ink painting and abstract art – a topic worthy of further exploration.


Returning to the purity of the materials themselves, he retained tearing, dyeing and pasting as his fundamental techniques, but to these he added the act of cutting. Meanwhile, Liang Quan began to consciously pursue a color aesthetic of plainness. This he achieved in a number of ways – by making his pigments light or thin, or by using the natural purity of a single color of ink. He achieved intricacy through simplicity, with a complex texture of wrinkles and innumerable colors underneath a base of paper made of orderly layers that were seemingly cut or torn evenly. Charged with feeling, the works were achieved by a decidedly non-mechanistic sequence of duplication. Paintings composed in this manner appear at first blush to be minimalist. Viewed more closely, they seem subdued. Carefully perused, they are imbued with lush variation.


“When I confront this mysterious world, I am powerless to prevail by strength, so all I can do is admit my weakness.” This statement of Liang Quan serendipitously dovetails with the words of the Tang-dynasty commentator Sikong Tu (837-908): “When one’s grasp is not strong, one receives in abundance.” “Drawing from the void to enter a state of wholeness,” returning to the root of things, Liang Quan persists in “amassing the essence,” [1]affording us a glimpse of the mind as empty as the wind through a valley.


[1] The terms “fan xu ru hun” (drawing from the void to enter a state of wholeness” and “xu su shou zhong” (amassing the essence) are both found in Sikong Tu’s Poetry.


Liang Quan


1948             Born in Shanghai, with ancestral home in Zhongshan, Guangdong

Had started to learn painting since childhood at the Yougth Palace in Yangpu District, Shanghai

1963              Published an ink art painting in the Liberation Daily

1964              Admitted to the affiliated middle school of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art).

1977             Red Grandfather (joint work) featured in the Art Exhibition for the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of Chinese People‘s Liberation Army

1981              Enrolled in Academy of Art College in San Francisco to study printmaking

1984              Back to China, started to teach at the Printmaking Department of Zhejiang                           Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art)

1985              Participated in a seminar hosted by Zao Wu-ki at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts.                 Went to Beijing for Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Exchange and was deeply                     impressed by the silkscreen paintings

1990-1992     Worked on Chinese Album of Painting series. Published a catalog of the same name in 1993.

1995              Started to works as professional painter at Shenzhen Fine Art Institute

1997              Participated in Chinese Art Exhibition - Contemporary Chinese Painting curated                   by Pi Daojian. This was the very first time that Liang Quan was featured as an ink                artist in a government-hosting art exhibition.

2000              Found his grandmother’s wash board by chance and was touched by the    three-dimentional stripes, the tranquility and the peacefulness, hence brought a new perspective to the form of his work.

Now works and lives in Shenzhen.


Solo Exhibition

2015       Amassing the Essence: Thirty Years of Paintings by Liang Quan, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China

2014       Liang Quan Solo Exhibition, Wistaria Tea House, Taipei, China

              The Joy of Tea-Liang Quan Solo Exhibition, Soka Art Center, Taipei, China

2013    Folds of the Infra-fade, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China

2011              Bland, Wellside Gallery, Seoul, Korea

Eight Views of Xiaoxiang, Wistaria Tea House, TaipeiChina

Sailing Afar -Liang Quan's New Works, PIFO New Art Gallery, Beijing, China

2006      Liang Quan's Solo Exhibition, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai, China

2005      Liang Quan's Solo Exhibition, M.Sutherland Fine Arts, New York, U.S.A

2004      Liang Quan's Solo Exhibition, Mies van Der Rohe Haus, Berlin, Germany

2001     Liang Quan's Solo Exhibition, Kunst House, Nürnberg, Germany

1994    Liang Quan's Solo Exhibition, Alisan Fine Arts Limited, Hong Kong, China

1989       Exhibition in the University of San Diego, San Diego, U.S.A. 


Chia Chi Jason Wang

Curator / Art Critic


Born in 1961, Chia Chi Jason WANG lives and works in Taiwan as a curator and art critic. He was the curator of the Taiwan Biennial 2008, the Taiwan Pavilion at the 51st International Art Exhibition of the Biennale of Venice 2005, and the 9th International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale of Venice 2004. He also worked as co-curator of the 2002 Taipei Biennial Great Theatre of the World. His other recent positions included Curator of Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2001), and Executive Director of the Dimension Endowment of Art (2001-1002).


First published in Beijing by China Nationality Art Photograph Publishing House.


Produced by Hive Center for Contemporary Art

Printed by Beijing QL-ART Printing Co., Ltd.

Format16k  215mm×280 mm

I S B N  978-7-5122-0713-4


Amassing the Essence: Thirty Years of Paintings by Liang Quan

DATE: Jun 27 - Jul 27, 2015


CURATOR: Chia Chi Jason Wang

ARTIST: Liang Quan