Hao Liang

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

“I’m deeply in­flu­enced by tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ings—my work fol­lows their rules,” ex­plains Hao Liang as he slowly un­furls a re­cently com­pleted ink paint­ing on a 15-me­tre-long silk scroll. “I even ac­quire old inks from auc­tions so my work can have the same qual­ity as those his­tor­i­cal ink paint­ings. An­cient inks are of a higher qual­ity due to stricter stan­dards.” The 32-year-old artist in­cor­po­rates not only the tra­di­tional tech­niques of ink paint­ing, but also the vis­ual lan­guage. “My work con­nects his­tory and the present. In con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese so­ci­ety, we are dis­con­nected from tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture,” he ex­plains.

Som­bre washes of colour fill the scroll as a de­tailed land­scape un­folds. But this is no tra­di­tional land­scape. It’s apoc­a­lyp­tic—a vi­o­lent fairy tale and a dystopian al­le­gory. A sav­age flood, all curlicues of beau­ti­fully de­tailed waves that con­sume fields, gives way to a Dante-es­que scene as an in­ferno blazes across a moun­tain­ous land­scape. An­i­mals at­tempt to leap to safety and a robed skele­tal fig­ure stands atop a hill ap­prais­ing the de­struc­tion around him. The works are in­debted to the literati and land­scape paint­ings of the 12th and 13th cen­turies, from which the artist de­rived much of his in­spi­ra­tion, but they also de­pict mod­ern con­cerns about the en­vi­ron­ment and so­ci­ety, invit­ing con­tem­pla­tion on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween man and na­ture.

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