Rooted Modernity: Lee Chung-Chung - Art Collector

Lee Chung-Chung, Pure Space, 2015. Ink on cotton paper, 94.5 x 250cm. Courtesy the artist and Liang Gallery, Taipei

By Jason Chung Tang Yen

Lee Chung-Chung’s ink wash paintings have an alluring quality that is bright and vague at the same time. Over the last five decades, the 70-year-old artist has become renowned for her strong skills in traditional ink painting, which she applies to her practice in an effortlessly elegant and eclectic way. Her sophisticated style of abstraction is almost fauvist, with a hint of Redon and Klee.

Chung-Chung was a pivotal figure among Liu Kuo Song’s Chinese Ink Painting Study Association, which she joined in 1968. An ink-painting veteran, Chung-Chung plays a central role in shaping the future of one of the art world’s most historic mediums. While resonating with masters from the Western art history such as Redon, Patrick Heron and Motherwell, the artist successfully manages to progress from tradition and make her works uniquely her own.

Coming from an artistic family, Lee started drawing young with her father Lee Chin-Yu, who was also an artist. The family moved to Taiwan during the second stage of the Chinese Civil War when Chung-Chung was four. The artist magnificently merges the intangible force of the ink with her own inner chi (or qi) onto the surface of cotton paper. The agility of the fluid ink is in contrast with Chung-Chung’s firm touch and that perfect balance for which she is known, a balance that took her half a century to master, is indeed stunning. “When I paint, I want the audience to feel my work’s force like that of an elephant’s stump,” says the artist.

Through her work we see Chung-Chung’s soul poured into a world of half abstraction and half reality. Perhaps this is a means of escape for the artist – the soft edges of reality provide comfort. Through trials and tests, her practice merges her independent thinking into creating a new tradition.

Lee Chung-Chung’s solo exhibition: Elegance of Landscape, shows at Liang Gallery in Taipei from 6 June to end of July 2015.

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