From the Abstract to VR, toying with theories, The Jinan Exhibition

While preparing this blog and reading through the artists’ statements below there has been a lot of reference to constructing and perceiving reality which puts in mind the subject big data and VR, huge phenomena of our time. When symbols such as words fade away to be replaced by shared knowledge of communication, such a shared virtual reality, it can alter how we live and behave. We now exist in a very different space and time and it is the abstract form of art which points out to us a few basic building blocks.  


This exhibition curated by Ma Yiying opens up a dialogue and considers where the abstract form is positioned within a global context. The exhibition is held in the beautiful garden grounds of Yongquan, Jinan. The two week event is a response to earlier exhibitions held in the US (April 2018) one in the United Nations in NYC and the other in Michigan.  Of course it would be difficult not to notice the big international masters names Joseph Beuys, Antoni Tàpies and CY Twombly and others alongside renowned Chinese abstract artists whom I had the pleasure to meet in Jinan such as Deng Guoyuan, Wang Yigang, Meng Luding, Gu Liming, Yuan Hailong, and Liu Yingqing .

Participitaing Artists:

Joseph Beuys(Germany), Antoni Tàpies(Spain), Cy Twombly(USA), Girar Bourriau(France), Niamh Cunningham(Ireland), Carl Janes(USA), 邓国源Deng Guoyuan, 马路Ma Lu, 谭平Tan Ping, 王易罡Wang Yigang, 孟禄丁Meng Luding, 顾黎明Gu Liming, 袁海龙Yuan Hailong, 刘影青Liu Yingqing

Considering I am unable to speak to the great masters from “the other side “ I have found some relevant quotes on line for Beuys, Twombly and Taipes  which  I hope match their work in this exhibition.



Joseph Beuys(Germany), 


School is universal. That means, on the street – when you talk about these things with people at the grocer’s; the school is at the grocer’s at that moment….I just want to encourage everyone to take this into their own hands, the educational process.. .We don’t need a brilliant talent somewhere. Precisely the ability that one has at the moment must be put to work. Talks at Documenta 5′, 1972


The first classroom at Confucius followers palace at Qufu city Shandong where we visited after the exhibition opening. 







Cy Twombly(USA),

Commissioned for the Winter 1984 Olympics 

What the artist said: Quote of Twombly in ‘Writings’, Flash Art International, Laura Cherubini, October 2008 (translation from Italian: Beatrice Barbareschi)

Each line is now the actual experience with its own innate history. It does not illustrate — it is the sensation of its own realization. [a written art note by Twombly on a painting he created in 1957].


Antoni Tàpies (Spain)

What the artist said: Quote from A Report on the Wall, Antoni Tàpies , text translated from Catalan: ‘Comunicació sobre el mur’, in ‘La pràctica de l’art’, Barcelona: Ariel, 1970

..the wall, the window or the door — and so many other images that parade in my canvases — are indeed there and I am far from trying to hide the fact. …..My walls, windows or doors — or at least my suggestions of them — do not avoid their responsibility and hold their full archetypal or symbolic weight.


Liu Yingqing刘影青 (USA) 

What the artist says:

The process of one’s life is like a poem. The mood I felt when I painted this work at that time was an expression of attitude, fragment in time and emotion in life… one of my goals is to capture the rhythmic and poetic aspects of life.



Carl Janes (USA)

What the artist says: 

Anything that is created fundamentally alters the fabric of reality. My work attempts to break through constraints and result in an object that is in itself a key to unlocking a new freer present.


Gu Li Ming , 顾黎明












What the artist says:

I explore the two relationships between man and nature through Jing Hao’s “Shan Shui Fu”, both the semi-hidden and half-present relationship between human beings on the natural environment. This process incorporates collage and the folk art of tearing paper. Whether it is the image of a mountain or the rhythm of water, inspiration and nourishment is sourced by the traditional Chinese culture and art. In the interlacing of lines and colors, the inner soul of the paper is triggered by the brush stroke and the color, and the multi-intentional switching space is generated.  These traces can evoke our attachment to historical feelings, and they can also reflect our realities.


Meng Liu Ding 孟禄丁

What the artist says:

For this work the sense of radiance is related to my production method and language, because it is extracted into existence by the high-speed rotation of the machine yielding this state of natural tension The abstract language itself is the pursuit of spiritual expression, spiritual art itself, naturally with a sense of timelessness and infinity. So abstract art itself has this characteristic, and the visual representation of the human spirit and the world of thinking tends to be a sense of eternity beyond reality.


Wang Yi Gang王易罡

What the artist says: 

The biggest enemy is “self”. The first thing to subvert and target is yourself. Especially for artists, the first thing to do in the studio is to cut your hands and feet and cut off the extra things. I recently listened to a novel called “Happy People”, in which a protagonist called Huang Wei, he learned a kind of kung fu called “reinforcement of the meridians.” He first destroyed his own meridians and then reconnected them, and each time he reshaped it would become even stronger. The same is true in painting, destroying oneself and re-birth, that is what renews a fresh life. Your confidence will grow stronger and stronger in countless destructions, and your claims will be more clearly expressed.


Deng Guo Yuan

What the artist says :

The Garden series confronts nature in a way that is oscillating between imagery and abstraction.   The fast strokes are merely rough shadows, some with soft light whites and then other ambigious areas that absorb the base of the paper. From a distance the viewer can identify the language like nature of Chinese painting but the closer the viewer gets the further the departure is from that origin. This exploration of the viewing process is also of interest, while interpreting abstract symbols, the eyes have to refocus repeatedly, just like an ancient scroll, and the whole image gradually emerges as it is – viewing as a reading act as an interpretation in the viewing process.



Yuan Hailong 袁海龙



Niamh Cunningham 瑞莲

What the artist says: 

The sucrose series explores loss and reclamation through process and materiality. It involves a sequence of multiple interventions and explores how the physical matter itself can continue to push the creation event. Some of the interventions include sewing, ‘burning off’ the digital image from the surface, adding colour and of course the crystalisation process of sugar. Once I am finished working on the ‘sugar painting’ the process of crystalisation may continue to transform and obliterate. 


“Refined through a century of development abstract art has evolved considerably’ said curator Ma YiYing.  “There are qualitative changes in the human cultural such as artistic concepts triggered by the Internet and AI and other scientific and technological achievements, abstract artists are also reflecting on and challenging themselves to seek the possibility of responding to the times and constantly surpassing themselves.”


Media Links 

Link 1

Link 2 


Sincere thanks to curator Ma YiYing, to the Federation of Literary and Art Circles of Jinan City and Management committee of Nanshan District, and to Yuan Hailong and the Jinan Yongquan Academy . 

I would also like to personally thank Ma Yiying and his wife Xiao Xu for the action packed adventures exploring  the Confucius city of Qufu  and the mountain of Taishan. Also thanks to artists Liu Yingqing and Carl Janes for the enlightening chats and wonderful company.