Contemporary Ink Art in Calvin Hui’s Eyes

1. As you show huge passion on ink art, especially contemporary ink art these years, is there any special reason?

With the tradition of its own aesthetics, ink art is of the most important culture heritages and an artistic language of Chinese. As an extension and new exploration based on the tradition, contemporary ink art shows its openness on creativity. Nowadays, artists tend to use different ways to create ink art, like installation, video and photography, and even choose multiple mediums like coffee. What I mentioned above inherited the tradition while creating more possibilities with contemporary vision, which is the part appealing to more and more ink art lovers including me. In an era of globalization, with the pursue on China exporting culture, I strongly believe that ink art will connect to a worldwide platform with radical changes.

Calvin Hui Co-Founder and Artistic Director of 3812 Gallery

Calvin Hui Co-Founder and Artistic Director of 3812 Gallery

2. With the passion on ink art, what did you do in the past few years?

I have strong interest on ink art especially contemporary ink art all the time. On one hand, I share similar cultural background; and meanwhile, I think it should be Chinese to take the lead to promote ink art and develop its market.

As Artistic Director of 3812 Gallery, I always engage with collectors through our exhibitions. Now, our gallery represents renowned artists like Hsiao Chin, Qu Leilei, Wang Huangsheng, and also some emerging talents such as Peng Kanglong, Lin Guocheng, Yu Yang, Chloe Ho and else. No matter with delicate brushstrokes or abstract ink lines, artists we worked with possess their personal style and unique languages. Some says 3812 gathers two generations of outstanding contemporary ink artists. In fact this is the goal we are working to reach.

In 2015, I founded Ink Asia fair, the first global art fair specialising in contemporary ink art. In the second edition in December 2016, it continued to develop based upon my vision of expanding it as a major platform for ink art in the international market, and bridging between academies and the commercial side of the market. I may say it is my aspiration or an ambition to promote Chinese ink to be world-renown.

Collectors specialists artists and celebrities in the booth of 3812 Gallery

Collectors, specialists, artists and celebrities in the booth of 3812 Gallery

3. Ink art has been experienced for years. What do you think about its past, present and the future?

True, ink art is with us for centuries. I am happy to witness its development in nowadays market in these years as more and more artists including Chinese artists and artists from overseas are working with his traditional media, yet reinventing the tradition through diverse expressions in mediums, subject matters, artistic perceptions and languages. Ink art no longer means only art on paper, but it can expand to various forms and presentations such as installation and video art.

The commercial potential of ink cannot be overlooked thanks to the continuous development in the market particularly in the Greater China region. Ink art collectors was never marginalized, but perhaps only because the voices and noises of the pricing of contemporary art have drawn bigger attention in the past decade.

Mind-Scape III in Ink Asia 2016

Mind-Scape III in Ink Asia 2016

'Mind-Scape III Artists Group Exhibition with ink artworks created by multiple mediums-1

Mind-Scape III Artists Group Exhibition with ink artworks created by multiple mediums

Mind-Scape III Artists Group Exhibition with ink artworks created by muSome people questioned if creating an art fair for such niche medium (ink art) would be risky? But I held complete opposite point of view. First, ink art market was quieter but it didn’t mean it was small or didn’t exist. On the contrary, ink art possessed such rich resources in the Greater China Region that provides us enormous opportunities when millions of artists and collectors are living here and supporting the ink art movement in his own approach for so many years. Sharing similar cultural understanding based on have similar cultural identity has also provided such solid foundation for developing the ink art market in this region. Furthermore, ink art is seen a new option for young generation collectors. I have strong confidence on its market potentiality.

However, we cannot take artwork as commodity because art is culture, and culture can’t be traded like commercial products, if we want to establish a healthy ecology for the market. In front of such long tradition, I was always asking myself what could represent contemporary ink art and how can it presented? To gather the support from specialists, scholars, curators, I advocated to engage the academic professionals for hosting series of academic discussions which helped exchange knowledge and experience in the development of contemporary ink art.

Mind-Scape III Artists Group Exhibition in 3812 Gallery

Mind-Scape III Artists Group Exhibition in 3812 Gallery

4. As you show huge passion on ink art, especially contemporary ink art these years, is there any special reason?

When we talk about the “market”, it cannot be focused on one single aspect such as auction records. Promotions of artists by galleries, academic programs and exhibitions pretended by mid urns, to name a couple are also important factors for the development. It is a fact that ink art will increasingly win attention of art collectors in the region or in the international market. To me, ink is part of the living of Chinese people, and it fits perfectly our contemporary lifestyle as well.

In recent years, the value of contemporary ink has been increasing in the market, which such growth was mainly driven by the auction market. However, I also need to address my concern on its sustainable growth as it needs museums and academies to put effort together in archiving, researching and publishing materials of ink art; such academic output will provide solid references for establishment of a healthy ecology for the ink art development. In my opinion, it is much important to think about its sustainability.

So I don’t suggest collectors to benchmark the value of artists and their works based on auction record, though it could be a database for reference. I always say culture needs to be cultivated with passion and patience. Collecting art or investing in art is the same.

Calvin Hui

Co-Founder and Artistic Director