T'ang Haywen, les chemins de l'encre
Contrary to the generally held belief, Chinese painting has never ceased to evolve. At the various stages of its growth, individuality and respect for tradition acted together or in opposition to produce countless treasures and innovations. The example of T'ang Haywen, in the second half of the 20th century, illustrates this phenomenon particularly well. T'ang never received any formal education in art apart from learning calligraphy from his grandfather, T'ang Yien. In Paris, he acquainted himself with the work of western artists and chose to become a painter. Art was a way of life for him, not a career choice. Already faithful to tradition, his work bore the mark of true individual expression as well as a sincere detachment from material contingencies. His work revolved around landscapes as subjects and ink as his medium. T'ang assimilated the underlying principles of Chinese painting that had regarded ink as the paramount medium since the end of the 9th Century. Through constant experimentation in the medium, T'ang finds his own path through ink painting, developing a personal trait by defining a constant space for his pictorial expression. He painted in series, always using standard sizes of paper or cardboard surfaces. This allowed him to paint quickly and no longer concern himself with the issue of format. It also bestowed upon his work a unifying consistency at the same time as separating him from the painters of his generation.
This catalogue is a the first of its kind to offer such a comprehensive outlook on the work of an artist gifted with an exceptional creative power. Exhibition venue: Musee national des Arts asiatiques-Guimet, June 2002.