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Xu Bing, born in 1955, earned his MFA degree specializing in wood carving from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and settled in New York in 1991. He liked to play with words from childhood. His fame began in China when he carved thousands of fake Chinese characters and printed them in hundreds of books in the traditional format. He called them Books from the Sky. In New York he invented a way of writing English or any other language with an alphabet resembling traditional Chinese calligraphy. His recent square calligraphy of English and his books on how to practice the square English will be displayed in this exhibition. His works have been shown in many museums worldwide. He currently has a retrospective exhibition at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington DC. He received the McArthur Foundation "Genius" Award in 1999.
Hou Wenyi loves paper and makes paper. Her paintings begin in the process of making paper. She adds colors, ink, and whatever she desires into the paper pulp before it is finally pressed. The works displayed in the exhibit are elegant semi-abstract grapes that are reminiscent of traditional Chinese brush and ink paintings. Hou Wenyi came to New York in 1991 after she finished her graduated study in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California. She was one of the few female artists enthusiastically involved in the New Wave movement in early 1980's in China. Her paintings also express her strong and sensitive feelings as a single mother and artist in New York. The documentary film "Flow" 1993 by Yau Ching about her life was shown at the MOMA film and video program.
Zhang Hongtu was born in 1943 and moved to New York in 1982. He has painted continually in New York. This exhibition will display three pieces in his series of oil paintings Repainting Chinese Landscape Paintings, started in 1998. Each follows a single, seemingly simple formula: execute a famous Chinese composition in a well known Impressionist or Post-Impressionist brush manner. He resembles a conductor who directs Western and Chinese masters in a unified performance with his brush. Zhang's work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of Arts, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and the PS1 Museum of Contemporary Art.
Wei Jia born in 1957 graduated from the Oil Painting Department in the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and settled in New York in 1991 after finishing graduate studies in Pennsylvania. By exploring traditional Chinese calligraphy together with the contemporary art of minimalism, he has created a series of new paintings, Calligrapher, which will be shown in this exhibition. His love for Chinese traditional art and poetry started when he was a teenager. Unlike others during the Cultural Revolution, he practiced Chinese traditional painting styles and learned classical literature with a master for years before studying Western art in college. In Wei Jia's painting, the calligraphy of famous ancient Chinese calligraphers appears mostly as fragments of art forms instead of as complete poems and essays as in their originals works. Wei Jia's paintings are all about the beauty of space and form, energy from the structure and the subtle surface of the images. He has had solo shows in Philadelphia since 1988. His work was included in "Art Span 1920-2000" - a part of Shanghai Biennale in China in 2000. His poetic works are widely collected by corporations and collectors in the United States and Hong Kong.
Zhang Jianjun was born in 1955 in Shanghai. He currently is teaching at the Fine Art Department at New York University. About his recent oil paintings, "China Chapter", he said: "Images and impressions of the reconstructed development and the changing of modern society are inherent in these paintings. Cultures are influenced and change their forms through time, and, in contemporary society, cross-cultural influences create new forms. My work is to summarize and survey this phenomenon with an image." Last year his work was included in the Venice Biennale in Italy, Chengdu Biennial in China, and Art Projects International in New York.

In all parts of the Chinese world, the late 20th century is marked by momentous social, economic, and cultural change. Deeply rooted cultural assumptions and centuries old visual traditions are being challenged by rapid modernization, changing political realities and conflicting global, ethnic and local identities. CONTEMPORARY BRUSH STROKES will explore how these challenges have spurred five artists, who left China to settle in New York, to produce their finest work.

Despite the different experiences of these artists in New York for the last decade, all of them have chosen the metaphoric space between China and the West as the fertile ground for their art. In Chinese history, the way of the middle has been the primary principle for balance and happiness. This approach to living has also shaped the philosophy of life and art of these New York artists who grew up in China. Their art brings across this philosophy with their use of both Chinese traditional and oil painting brushes on Chinese traditional paper or canvas. They created this new middle space for themselves in defiance of Western pressure towards the way of the extreme. The various personalities and interests of these artists have inspired works uniquely different from other artists living in China and from native New York artists.

The 20 works in the exhibition have been selected to show the explosion of creativity among these artists and to convey a sense of the dynamism in their work. Their preference for confronting their cultural heritage within the context of the New York artistic community serves to break down the barriers between Asian art and Western art. Major themes the exhibition explores include: the use of cultural heritage; the relationship of the individual to society and art; and the quest for artistic identity in new environments.

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