Beyond Ink – Suzhou 《楮墨之外——在蘇州》- A Solo Exhibition by Zhuang Shengtao

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Venue: iPreciation (誰先覺), 50 Cuscaden Road, HPL House #01-01, Singapore 249724

Private Preview: Mar 6, 2021  (By Invitation Only)

Exhibition Opens to Public: Mar 8 – Mar 27, 2021

(Due to social distancing, prior viewing arrangement is recommended. Please cal6339 0678 or email Brian at brian.foong@ipreciation.com)

iPreciation is delighted to present a solo exhibition by Singapore pioneer contemporary ink artist, Zhuang Shengtao (b. 1944), titled Beyond Ink – Suzhou. This exhibition showcases a series of works by Zhuang between 2006 – 2015. Residing and surrounding himself in the historical ambience of Suzhou since 1997, Zhuang is progressively liberal in his swings and sways. His audacious, uninhibited brushstrokes, as well as unconventional composition, push the boundaries of daxieyi (freehand brushwork) further to one that transcends distinguishable forms and echo influences of both the East and the West. 

Zhuang lives increasingly as a literati artist after settling in Suzhou, the result of many years of honing his skilful technique and his sojourns seeking fresh ideas. In an environment he saw as more conducive for his art practice, he was inspired by the colours and light in nature which became the key to create strong visual effects with ink. The bold strokes in his large wild cursive script calligraphy soon transform into abstract and organic compositions in his ink paintings, the contrast of each of them stark against one another with varying opacities. Every lyrical and zestful brushstroke of his ink paintings in Beyond Ink – Suzhou is evident of his strong foundation in calligraphy, crooning the rhythm of classical Chinese poetry and creativity in blending the essence of a traditional medium with new visual aesthetics.

Zhuang’s vivacious, introspective brushstrokes capture a fresh interpretation and visuals of contemporary ink. His works are being permanently collected by National Gallery Singapore, as well as privately. 

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Born in Chao’an, Guangdong, China in 1944, Zhuang Shengtao moved to Singapore at the age of 11 with his family. He enrolled in foundation classes at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1964 where he studied calligraphy and painting under the tutelage of the renowned calligrapher, See Hiang To. He later obtained a Bachelor’s degree (First Class Honours) in 1972 and a Master’s degree in 1977 from Nanyang University, both in Chinese Literature. Deeply rooted in Chinese culture, Zhuang is especially fascinated with Chinese philosophy and he pledges fidelity to Chinese ink till today. 

In 1981, Zhuang travelled to France in search of a creative breakthrough. Subsequently, he toured Europe and the United States. Exposure to Western contemporary art, notably the drip paintings of abstract expressionist, Jackson Pollock, led to a major turning point in his artistic pursuit. Zhuang moved away from the formalistic calligraphic styles and experimented with abstract forms and vigorous brushwork in writing large wild cursive script calligraphy. Soon, he set himself on a path to embrace old traditions while developing new ink expressions.

In the 1990s, the absence of a thriving art scene in Singapore and the lack of suitable tools for his larger new works offered little avenue for Zhuang to continue his explorations. He travelled to Hangzhou in 1996 to seek new inspirations and materials. A year later, he resides in Suzhou, the quaint ancient historic city until the present. 

誰先覺將舉辦新加坡當代水墨先鋒莊聲濤(b. 1944)個展「楮墨之外——在蘇州」。取題「楮墨之外」意即莊一系列水墨創作所流露出的情感與哲學早以超出紙墨之外,溢於楮墨之表。他畫風愈發縱逸灑脫,酷愛大寫意,構圖不循常規,大肆揮毫,一氣呵成的的恣意與意趣每每讓他陶醉不已,豪邁的揮筆使其創作自成一家。他每一筆抒情和粗狂的筆觸都顯示出他深厚的書法基礎,吟着中國古典詩歌的節奏,融合了中國傳統墨筆和當代視覺美學。

自1997年以來,莊旅居蘇州,經過蘇州悠長古韻的陶養,他更像是現代文人雅士了。在他認爲更利於自己藝術實踐的環境中,從自然的色彩和光線中得到靈感,成爲了用水墨創造強烈視覺效果的關鍵。他的水墨畫中帶有書法的筆觸,抽象構圖和筆觸之間的對比既鮮明也渾濁多變。一點一刷皆抒情達意,筆力渾厚蒼勁,無不散發古典詩意與韻律。

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莊聲濤於1944年生於中國廣東潮安,11歲隨家人移居新加坡。1964年考入南洋美術學院基礎班,師從著名書法家施香沱學習書畫,有著深厚的書法和水墨畫基礎。1972年,他獲得南洋大學,文學系中國文學學士學位(一等榮譽),1977年獲得南洋大學中國文學碩士學位。莊深深植根於中國文化,對中國哲學有著非一般的理解與情結。

 1981年莊曾遠赴法國一年尋找創作上的突破。隨後,更到歐美等地遊學與考察,深受歐美當代藝術——尤其是抽象表現主義大師傑克遜·波洛克的滴色畫的影響。他試著從形式主義的書法風格中走出來,嘗試用抽象的形式和遒勁的筆觸書寫大字。他開始將意象抽象化,筆意雄健,揮毫潑墨不拘泥於小節,搭配寬大的紙張,氣韻豐盈,耐人尋味。由此,擁抱舊傳統、發展新表述,逐漸成爲莊聲濤藝術追求的核心。

90年代改變筆觸後的莊在新加坡經常買不到合適的作畫工具,四季常青的景緻對他而言又有些枯燥乏味。在1996年他前往杭州,希冀江南水鄉有助激出靈感的火花。隔年,他便留住蘇州至今。


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iPRECIATION(誰先覺)
50 Cuscaden Road
HPL House #01-01
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