Clouds Stretching for a Thousand Miles: Ink in Asian Art
Clouds Stretching For A Thousand Miles: Ink in Asian Art features selected recent acquisitions from the Asia Society Museum Collection and celebrates the versatility and enduring influence of the calligraphic ink tradition across Asia. Exemplary works by Gu Wenda, Huang Yan, Minjung Kim, Qiu Zhijie, and Sun Xun, displayed alongside two illuminated Qur'ans from China and Central Asia, reveal the innovative use of ink and calligraphy in visual expression, from the fourteenth century to the present, across Asia and the diaspora.
The title of the exhibition comes from the celebrated Tang Dynasty calligrapher and scholar Chang Yen-Yuan (c. 815–c. 875 CE), who likened the primary stroke of traditional calligraphic practice — the horizontal line — to "clouds stretching a thousand miles." This metaphor aptly describes the way contemporary Asian artists have embraced traditional calligraphic painting traditions and underscores the enduring importance of text and language across East Asian, West Asian, and Islamic art canons.
This presentation introduces ink works that are part of Asia Society's new collecting focus and continues the Museum's initiative to connect objects from the Traditional Collection to works from the Contemporary Collection through medium, techniques, and ideas that artists actively draw upon in the twenty-first century. Clouds Stretching for a Thousand Miles highlights the distinct art developments from the region and the creative, and sometimes subversive, methods that contemporary Asian artists have adopted to mine their respective cultures for inspiration.