Metaphysics, Corporeality and Visuality: A Developmental and Comparative Review of the Discourses on Chinese Ink Painting


  • Eva Kit Wah MAN



new ink art, technique, visuality, metaphysics, Confucian, Taoist


This paper will address two main questions: How should we understand modern Chinese ink art and its many possibilities, when we agree that this has a great bearing on how the traditional medium of ink is being internationally recognized? Is there anything essential about ink art? The discussion begins with a recent ink art exhibition entitled, “New Ink Art: Innovation and Beyond”, which shapes new ink art under its various social and cultural contexts. With the controversies on the modernization issues of ink painting, this paper is devoted to reviewing some of the essentialist views of ink painting discussed in the Chinese tradition, and the observations on new ink art from some developmental perspectives, with particular regard to the problems of technique, visuality and metaphysics. The aesthetical references in the Confucian and the Taoist contexts will be revisited, with the example of the theories and the work of Shih Tao, the great Chinese ink painter. The discussion will then be compared and contrasted with the Western Kantian model and Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics. The metaphysical beliefs will be emphasized in the comparative revelation when the focus is on the understanding of art, visuality and corporeality implied in the media.