Born in 1983 into an artistic family in Chengdu, Hao Liang had a keen interest in traditional Chinese painting from a young age. His grandfather was a collector and lover of art, who took him to exhibitions and encouraged him to paint.
In his studio on the outskirts of Beijing, a large three-metre-long silk hangs unfinished on the wall. Sketches of the work are pinned to the wall beside it, and copies of paintings from the Ming dynasty are strewn across the table.
Removing Walls For The Appreciation Of A Prunus Mume – Winter Solstice. Ink and colour on silk.
This work is from Searching the Wonders – Miscellanea on Leisurely Survival, 2013
© Hao Liang, courtesy of the artist
Hao is a contemporary ink painter who uses a traditional technique known as guóhuà but with his own unique take on it. He spent years studying the Chinese masters and reproduced a classic work from the North Song dynasty at university.
‘Any innovative act can only be achieved after a painter has learned thoroughly all the existing artistic legacy,’ he says. ‘Coordination between the mind, the hand and the eye takes a long time to learn. The ideal of shan shui (Chinese landscape) painting is the unity of man and nature. It seeks a relationship between the human body and nature that enhances both. In Western landscape painting, the emphasis is on observing and dominating nature.’
At a time when traditional ink painting has fallen out of fashion, Hao gives the old art form new life. His works have a darker hue but the subject matter – of animals and landscapes – echoes traditional themes.