White into Blank
May 16 - Jul 15, 2020

Press Release

White into Blank

“White into Blank” embarks on a new remarkable era for academic exhibition, after the Whitebox Art Center has been dedicating to contemporary Chinese art over the past decades. The exhibition, which demonstrates the rhyme of "Chinese White", in the Whitebox Art Center lives up to its name. The exhibition, curated by Xia Kejun, kicks off on May 16 in the Whitebox Art Center.

"White into Blank" aims to present the classical Chinese art in a contemporary form. The concept "White into Blank" is different from Malevich’s “Suprematist Composition: White on White”, Rauschenberg’s abstract painting the blank “Untitled”, Ryman’s minimalistic “White”, Li Yuhuan's monochromatic painting of “White in White”. Different from the various original artistic languages and philosophies embodied by the aforementioned representative artists, "White into Blank" activates the traditional blurry whiteness in China- naturally activates the concepts of keeping white and blank. Furthermore, after the dialogue with the aforementioned concepts, “White into Blank” instills vitality into Taoism philosophy featured by the emptiness and “whiteness arising from the void”. The new art independently generated from whiteness absolutely is a contribution to graphic art, a novel infra-mince art and the internationalization of Chinese painting.

In the exhibition, artistic works from six artists are showcased to the public: Lin Shouyu, Li Huasheng (both Lin Shouyu and Li Huasheng are decreased), Qiu Shihua, Liang Shaoji, Cao Jigang and Qin Yifeng. Their masterpieces are also the contemporary transformation and extensive dialogue between Chinese classical materials. The transformation from ink painting to oil painting, from porcelain and jade to Tempera, from silk to photos creates an innovative philosophy for Chinese contemporary art: the poetic growth of blurry whiteness. Whether it is abstract world, nature, concept or temperament, “White into Blank” reflects the instinct of life in a void and white way, and the calm and transcendent oriental spirit halo. They are presented in formal languages, with certain working methods and spiritual values.

There are five different whites absorbing the eternal circulation from five elements. Pure white–as white as a dazzling halo; gas white–growing into a hazy halo; sweet white–a touch of mild patina; snow white–poetic calmness of nature; margin white–the echo of blankness."White into Blank" integrates all sorts of whites to create whiteness: the fusion of light and gas, time and space. It is not a monopole principle. Instead, it is the separation from the middle and the force to maintain the sophisticated transition in the vagueness. The sensation will therefore linger.

“White into Blank” is an important opportunity for Chinese contemporary art to present its original language. Zhao Wuji's explored Chinese abstract painting in Paris, France in 1960s. Then, Lin Shouyu's white minimalist works created in London already reached international standards. In the 1980-90s, artistic creation in the mainland China, like Qiu Shihua’s empty canvas and Li Huasheng’s Maximalism were already different from the art language of Zhao Wuji. Then, in the 21st century, silk paintings of Liang Shaoji, Tempera infra-color aesthetics paintings of Cao Jigang and absolute gray scale photography works of Qin Yifeng, all reflect the contemporary transformation of Chinese classical aesthetics in different materials and different styles. This exhibition will display the artistic and cultural undercurrent with a long history, which awaits the discovery of academic community. “White into Blank” will become an academic exhibition for Chinese contemporary art to rewrite its own art history and marks a new era for the graphic art in the world.

Whitebox Art Center hopes that the delicate installation in using different spaces can create opportunities for the white porcelain from Song and Ming Dynasties to have a dialogue with these contemporary works. The real and immersive experience shows deep thoughts linking Chinese classical elegant aesthetics to contemporary art. Blank says- says nothing. Saying nothing means telling everything, which is the most mysterious beauty of Chinese language. Returning to whiteness refers to returning to zero. Only through starting from the scratch, can we return to the original connection between life and nature. Especially after the global disaster in 2020, our nation and even the whole world, need the art of whiteness to purify our body and mind.

Curator: Xia Kejun
February 2 to May 5

Curator Article

White into Blank
du Blanc au Blanc

Blank says: White is not only the color of white; white is a return to zero. 
Before any action and any thought, every time, humans need to return to zero.
Every time, begin again from nothing, namely, begin from empty-blank,
so as to return to the primal born connection between life and nature. 

Blank says: White is the primary appearance, the dawn of the world, the daytime of the beginning. 
White is the initial light: it says ‘light’ and there is light. But white is more than light—it is white light. 
To speak and say ‘white’ is to actually let The White speak. 

Blank says: White does not exist. It is latent; it is latent using there by virtue of all things, but it is also independent of all things, the white uses only empty. 
It demands that all things keep a blank territory for it. Blank becomes white and white blankness dominates all things. 

Blank says: Say Nothing. 
Both almost nothing and all but everything.
This is the most oxymoronic and mysterious Beauty from Chinese Language!

Blank says: White does not exist, and yet it is everywhere. 
It even forces whiteness to constantly appear; the material of whiteness also needs to be whitened. 
And so white is not only a noun—it is a continuous verb.  

Blank says: White is merely blank. 
To keep blank, to let blankness dominate the world and turn into an art piece—this is the highest art. 
White is a stretch of blankness that can even make the artwork itself disappear and become useless. 
The art of empty-white is art of Uselessness!

Blank says: 
White is not a single color, it is not monochrome. 
White in a monochrome is too plain, and it actually lacks the richness of variations of infra-white.
Blank says: 
White is not abstract painting, it is not white‘on’ white, not suprematism in Malevic; 
Such abstraction in fact exhausted whiteness and blankness. 
White emerges from chaos, but it quiets down the turbulence of chaos and clears up its murkiness in chaos.  

Blank says: There are five different infra-whites absorbing the infinite cycle of the five elements:
Pure White—as white as a dazzling halo; 
Gas White —growing into a hazy halo; 
Sweet White—a touch of mild patina; 
Snow White—the poetic peacefulness of nature; 
Margin White—the echo of blankness. 

White into Blanck (“Du Blanc au Blanc”) integrates all kinds of white to create whiteness
— it is the infra-fusion of light and gas, time and space. 

Blank says: White is non-white. 
There is black, grey, and white in infra-white.
Grey and white are Innigkeit of siblings , and infra-offwhite is the deepest tone of the soul. 

Blank says: 
White is black and black is white; but white is also non-white and black is non-black. 
Like in a Taiji diagram, the two encircle each other while remaining separate. 

White into Blanck is not a monopole principle. It is the separation from the center and the tension within that center, which is so infra-mince. 

Blank says: Leave empty-white. 
Keeping white is keeping the blankness between two parts. Because of the blankness in between, all surrounding things tend towards their own extremes, while they are also simplified, melting, and being permeated by the in-between blankness. 

White into Blanck is the in-between, separate world of whiteness, while it also opens up the world’s darkness.  

White into Blanck is the contemporary version of Zhuangzian, useless daemonic craftsmanship. 

White into Blanck means from blank to white, or blank “into” the middle of white. This “middle”(zhōng 中) also alludes to China—the Middle Kingdom (zhōng guó 中国).
and to life starting up again after returning to zero, triggering the revival of Chinese art and a new beginning for contemporary art in China.  

There are five categories of white :
1. White into Blanck : An entirety of empty white, which shows almost nothing. And yet, a changing world gradually emerges out of the empty white—it is the remnant growing of empty-white land or khoral-topia, found in infra-white painting of Qiū Shìhuá. 

2. White into Blanck : A kind of silky white, the white of raw silk, the white of natural silk—it is the inherent power for growth and reproduction in life itself. Let Natural-production becomes Art firstly, to keep the residual white, to preserve the Zen spirit of things—this is the silkworm art of Liáng Shàojī. 

3. White into Blanck : Black into white, white into black, white inside white, black inside black, lines interlace the grids of empty-white. In the rhyme interweaving and concave-convex subtle movements of black and white, the only thing recorded on the pure whiteness of rice paper is the breathing pulse of writing—this is the ink art of Li Huasheng. 

4. White into Blanck : White is invariably a status of transition and neutrality. Between abstraction and nature, between classical elegance and contemporary simplicity, nature brings a lingering aftertaste in an elliptical  and virtual way—this is the infra-mince tempera painting of Cao Jigang.  

5. White into Blanck : The analytical lines and gray level on film and the cloth-like quality of negative films, after compression produce the peacefulness of condensed energy, found in the infra-photography of Qin Yifeng. 

With the solemnity and ritual of resurrection, White into Blanck hearkens to the immanent poetic breath of history and the secret call of the soul in the depths of Chinese cultural history. With new sensibilities to art,“White into Blanck”draws on the moulding soul of ancient artifacts and through the unparalleled serenity of gray level, it brings human life to a moment of void, but also to a moment of perceiving an omnipresent warmth. “Du Blanc au Blanc” is the pinnacle of Chinese infra-mince art— the return of the Aura in the age of reproduction.  

“White into Blanck” is the contemporary transformation and extensive dialogue between the materials of classical Chinese culture. From ink to paper, from silk scroll to tempera, from natural silk to photos, Chinese contemporary art demonstrates a creative principle: the growth of empty whiteness and poeticality. The aesthetics of empty-whiteness is like the moon in daytime, always accompanying us from up there, looking down at us, detached and indifferent.

White into Blanck is the pure ‘Chinese white’, which is not only the concept of a color in painting, but the ground color of Chinese civilization; a spiritual color of energetic quality and hue; life Ur-language with Ur-phenomenon;  purified spirit whiteness of heart. “White into Blanck” is the calmness and blandness which manifests itself as the perception of the fragility of life and the immortality of the spirit—a Chinese Contemporary infra-colour aesthetics contribution 

White into Blanck attempts to reconnect the inner relationship between matter and spirit, and to reconcile technics with nature. It makes manifest the aesthetic value of an artistic language, through which it can overcome the crisis of the end of contemporary art. White into Blanck embodies a life ethic of spiritual purification and a universal value that can resolve the conflicts of modernity.

White into Blanck is not for someone to make clear, and what somebody have said has been in vain.“Du Blanc au Blanc” is not about theorizing and knowledge—it is an intimate experience of communication between the spiritual and the material; it is blankness after the purification of the soul. It is a place for everyone to express and share their ideas. 

“White into Blanck”: All artworks in this exhibition, whether oil paintings or ink paintings, whether photography or installation, manifest the bland and empty-white life instinct, the serene and transcendent Aura-light of the Orient, made concrete in the artworks through the language of forms, through working methods and spiritual values. 
“White into Blanck” is the actualization of a three-fold life ethics: Let Nature be, let Nothing be, let Let be. 

Hosted in the Whitebox Art Center in Beijing, “White into Blanck” could not have found a more fitting home. Through the careful space disposition, this exhibition is an attempt to bring forth the elegance of classical Chinese aesthetic culture and the deep reflections of contemporary art. After the recent calamity, the Chinese nation is in much greater need of this kind of art—an art that has the power to cleanse and free our hearts and minds.  

Xia Kejun
February 02, 2020


Installation View


Media Report