Contemporary spin on work from Chinese artists

Part of an exhibit of Chinese art at Howard Community College is a one-man show by Shin Yeon Jeon, which includes his "Head Totem" series, above.
Part of an exhibit of Chinese art at Howard Community College is a one-man show by Shin Yeon Jeon, which includes his "Head Totem" series, above. (submitted photo)

Two art exhibits at Howard Community College have a singular focus on Asian art. "The Resonance of the East and the West: Contemporary Chinese Art" is a group show featuring works on paper and paintings; and ceramics are featured in a one-artist show by Shin Yeon Jeon.

Curated by Yifei Gan and installed in HCC's Rouse Company Foundation Gallery, the group show mostly includes works done with ink and color on rice paper. They generally fit within an artistic tradition involving floral and landscape subjects. The representational lines tend to be spare, and the washes of black ink and color tend to be quietly atmospheric.


By way of floral subjects, a nice example is Ping Shen's ink and color on rice paper "Cherry Blossoms." A few tree branches provide the compositional structure, while the cherry blossoms are the delicate spots of color. This same artist's "Apple Blossoms" is similar, while "Harmonious" is more an example of what might be termed preserved nature owing to the fact that it depicts an arrangement of dried flowers placed in a bowl whose decoratively patterned surface is more visually assertive than the flowers.

Wei Liang has ink and color on rice paper works including two pieces in an "Essence of the Green" series in which birds nestled in leaves amount to a natural fusion. Another sort of harmonious merger occurs in Lifeng Gao's four ink and color on rice paper works in a "Landscape" series, but here the near-fusion involves temple-style buildings that seem totally at peace with their natural surroundings. It's easy to distinguish the buildings within the landscape setting, but they don't detract from the bodies of water and misty mountains around them.

Landscapes also figure into ink and color on rice paper works by artists including Song Zhang and Tao Ge in which the compositions are within a circular format. Yet another format is favored by Xue Jun Ding in an ink and color on rice paper "Insects' World" series in which insects including a dragonfly are depicted within a fan-shaped format. Tao Ge's ink and color on rice paper "Landscape in Fan Shape" also assumes a fan-shaped format.

Most of the above-mentioned artists rely on a balance of sharp definitional lines and melting environmental effects, but examples from Kit-Keung Kan's ink and watercolor on rice paper "White Water" and "Falling Water" series emulate the formless quality of their watery subject matter. Colors mix and melt and blur here.

Also favoring abstraction, Ning Lee's two oil paintings on canvas in a "Lotus Pond" series are intensively painted compositions in which the floating vegetation is like a densely woven carpet.

Likewise, Shanye Huang's acrylic, ink and rice paper on canvas "Trees and Vines Intertwine" is a deep green-hued vegetal tangle that's primed to capture your attention.

A separate exhibit in the college's Art Department Gallery showcases ceramics by Shin Yeon Jeon. Many of these representational pieces feature sculpted ceramic human heads whose expressions remain clear in design and yet enigmatic in meaning. Some of these heads are single objects that more or less fit within the convention of the sculptural portrait bust, while others are in a "Head Totem" series in which multiple heads are vertically linked by vases and other objects in column-evocative sculptures.

In another body of work, this artist has "Sculptural Functional Wares" in which an assortment of vessel types include some in which the faces and figures depicted on the sides of these bowls are complemented by small standing figures placed inside them.

"The Resonance of the East and the West: Contemporary Chinese Art Exhibit" and an exhibit by Shin Yeon Jeon remain through Nov. 16 at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Go to http://www.howardcc.edu.