The ongoing thoughts of an art teacher in China - and home in Sydney

A continuing diary about my travels in China, and thoughts about China and Chinese art from home and abroad

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two Spiritualities: Hu Qinwu and Angelina Pwerle

Hu Qinwu photographed in his Beijing studio in March 2011
When I met Hu Qinwu in Beijing last year, I was immediately drawn to his quietly meditative and immersive works on canvas and paper - his language of line, grid, and dot creates an experience akin to hearing a Buddhist temple chant. When I spoke with China Art Projects curator Reg Newitt and he told me he planned an exhibition of Hu Qinwu and the central desert painter Angelina Pwerle it seemed to me to be an absolutely inspired curatorial juxtaposition of artists. From such utterly different backgrounds and traditions, both artists have developed a visual language which represents a profoundly spiritual world view. The dots seen in the works of each of these artists are just the beginning. They suggest a cosmological map, a sacred text, a Braille-like coded language, or a record of tracks and journeys, pilgrimages if you like.
Hu Qinwu, '11504', acrylic on canvas, image reproduced courtesy of China Art Projects
The exhibition was shown in Beijing last year, received with great interest - it is, after all, Aboriginal art which most interests overseas audiences about our visual culture.

Angelina Pwerle, 'Bush Plum Dreaming', 2010, image reproduced courtesy of China Art Projects
This year it has travelled to Canberra and is now showing at the Drill Hall Gallery at ANU. I travelled to see it last weekend. And, let's face it, the drive from Sydney to Canberra is so boring that one needs a REALLY good reason to make the journey. I have to say that, despite some reservations on my way down the freeway, I did find seeing this exhibition such a reason - it stays in the mind and resonates for a long time after you leave the quietness of the exhibition space. I have written at greater length about the show here, in The Art Life. It is very much worth a look, and has affirmed my belief that Hu Qinwu is a significant addition to that small (but growing) group of Chinese artists currently working within a convention of abstraction. 

Hu Qinwu, 'R21', acrylic on canvas, image reproduced courtesy of China Art Projects