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Chinese artist fears ink painting tradition is being tarnished by need to stay relevant

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Luo Ying spent 17 years training at one of China’s top art schools in Hangzhou. Her academic approach to Chinese ink art may not find a ready audience abroad, but her main mission is to ignite interest back

Luo Ying is a purist. The professor of traditional Chinese painting practises what she teaches: her classical ink landscape paintingsborrow techniques and styles of brushwork used as far back as the Song dynasty (960 – 1279AD).cda963d4-88d8-11e8-8608-b7163509a377_972x_185253

“Chinese ink painting is the quintessence of our nation’s heritage. It is a timeless, classical art form that we can proudly show off to the world. There is no need to adulterate it with contemporary elements,” says the 44-year-old Hangzhou native at her first exhibition in Hong Kong.

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Luo fears that clumsy attempts to make Chinese ink art relevant to today’s world can take the focus away from traditional techniques and the underlying philosophy of the ancient art form. “Showing figures wearing face masks to make a point about air pollution is a bad idea, I think. You can watch the news if you want to find out about current affairs. Chinese paintings are not supposed to be about that.”

Luo is very much a product of China’s rigorous academic art training system – and of a city steeped in China’s literary and artistic traditions. She spent 17 years studying at the exclusive China Academy of Art on the banks of Hangzhou’s legendary West Lake, a Unesco Heritage site. She then stayed on to teach there. Luo is currently associate professor at the school’s Chinese painting department.

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