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Suspended Marks

February 11, 2003 - March 23, 2003

Chinese painting and calligraphy both emphasize the spiritual strength within every brush stroke, and each stroke embodies expressive power and independent beauty. Yubi yumo, a phrase that the ancient masters of Chinese painting used to question the existence and process of painting, means that ink strokes should be executed by expressive marks.

Painting begins with materials and ends with marks that make up the whole. Traditional Chinese art has a history of studying marks as an individual act, a creative act that potentially suggest something beyond the mundane world. The physical expression within the individual marks is a creative process that characterized with both Chinese calligraphy and painting. "Calligraphy does not represent the visual world. Rather, the calligrapher takes the given form of the written character and using his own brushwork as a gestured and improvisational sign, recreates through personal expression the forces of nature, transcending the literal meaning of the written character in a new, expressive language." (Wen C. Fong, Art Historian, from Possessing the Past: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, p 107, edited by Wen C. Fong and James C. Wyatt)

"In Chinese art, an artist 'writes' painting. Here 'write' means that the stroke shows the artist's strength and the essence of nature. Chinese brush painting emphasizes on 'letting brush stroke follow the emotion'." (Yueying Zhong)

Can the mark within painting and calligraphy transcend and, through the collective whole, create a harmonious oneness that is Tao? If the artist practices the act over and over again, perfecting the physical motion of creating the image/mark, then each stroke creates a literal as well as symbolic/spiritual mark. As an object, mark-making defines the subject of this exhibition.

Suspended Marks is an exhibition of mark-making, born out of an ancient Chinese tradition and culminating in a contemporary setting. The artists, Yueying Zhong and Lampo Leong, began their training and artistic careers in China. Both artists came to the United States and currently have studios in Columbia, Missouri. Their styles synthesize the tradition of Chinese mark-making with Western influences. In the three site-specific installations at Saint Louis University Museum of Art, the two artists have scrolls suspended in the gallery so that the viewer will have an opportunity to see marks floating in space. Thus, the suspended marks will be the object as well as the subject of Suspended Marks.

To some extent, the viewer holds a belief that a mark can create images that deems to be true; true in representation of an object, feeling, or theory of ideas. The viewer suspends a belief when (s)he enters the museum or gallery space to look at artworks. It is within this physical act of creation that suspends time and location for artists. The artist is able to transcend and communicate an image, emotion, or perception to which the viewer reacts and in which (s)he puts his/her own personal beliefs.

Suspended Marks challenges viewers to suspend their beliefs and take a physical look at works painted on the translucent silk suspended from the ceiling of the gallery. Viewers are encouraged to walk around, interact with the pieces, and to attend to the ways in which their eyes shift from surfaces to the depths of space, or the surface and the marks simultaneously. Viewers are also encouraged to see the suspended marks of Zhong and Leong in the context of a greater whole of Tao.