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"Song Poetry" 45 x 180 cm Ink on Paper 2016

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Force of Nature, The Power of the Brush

BEACON, NY – Ethan Cohen Fine Arts is pleased to present Yu Han Yu: Force of Nature, The Power of the Brush, a solo exhibition co-curated by Gan Yu and Ethan Cohen. The exhibition will be held at Ethan Cohen Kunsthalle (KuBe) in Beacon, New York from July 14 to September 2, 2018. A performance by Yu Han Yu and Yin Mei and Sharp Lines, Soft Nature, a symposium about the converging histories of Chinese ink tradition and the trading history of China, will take place on July 14. Symposium participants include Boon Hui Tan, Yu Hanyu, Prof. Eugene Wang, Yin Mei, Melik Kaylan, Ethan Cohen, Isaac Aden and Gan Yu. 


A leading figure in the practice of Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy, Yu Han Yu has pioneered a visual vernacular that pushes the ancient art form into the 21st century – without losing touch with its origins. Based in Beijing, he is recognized as both a master of the genre and an experimental visionary, an explorer on land and on the paper. Yu's ink paintings derive from direct contact with his subject matter: the mountainous regions of Tibet's Qinghai Plateau, the sweeping peaks of Shangri-La, glacial cataracts and cosmic cloudscapes. Born in 1964, Yu graduated from Hubei Institute of Fine Arts in Wuhan and China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. He has travelled to Tibet on some 50 occasions in 13 years, often in strenuous conditions. Yu’s explosively jagged confluences of nature suggest his own struggle against the elements in creating his art while conveying the internecine struggle within nature’s fierce forces of creation.


Yu does not paint from photographs or mediated images, although his works reference ancient imagistic antecedents in the landscape genre: the almost psychedelic colors of early Dunhuang cave murals fused with Tang era chromatic lushness and Northern Song atmospherics through the use of a brush and ink technique. He gathers the strands of aesthetic tradition and delivers them into realms of abstraction to achieve maximum expression. As such, his paintings could be termed expressionist – the brushwork itself is both medium and object while the scenery achieves simultaneity of both landscape and artist’s mindscape. Confronted by Yu's feral Himalayan volcanoes of ice, the viewer seems at times to be witnessing the moment when energy becomes form and when form is about to atomize into pure energy; the moment of creation and destruction. Hence the need for abstraction as perhaps the most realist approach to a metaphysical visual challenge.

Yu's calligraphy is also highly celebrated for its originality, its ability to convey its purpose not simply through meaning inherent in language or the individual dance of ideograms but through the headlong flow of the whole. The teeming kinetic torrents of calligraphy suggest his landscapes and their unleashed energy. Again, everywhere there is the pulsing instant when the artist sculpts creativity into form.

Yu Han Yu is the director of Ben Yuan Academy of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in Beijing, one of the country’s leading private art schools. His work has appeared in numerous prestigious exhibitions in China. His one-man show at the Beacon KuBe will be his first in a major US gallery.


About Kunsthalle Beacon (KuBe)

KuBe is a non-profit center for arts and contemporary culture located in downtown Beacon, New York with sixty artist studios and gallery spaces. The institution, established in 2010, launches its 2018 summer season on July 14.


Exhibition Opening Reception and Symposium Details

Date: Saturday, July 14, 2018, 1.30-7 p.m.

Address: Ethan Cohen KuBe, 211 Fishkill Ave, Beacon, NY, 12508

Symposium: Sharp Lines, Soft Nature | Chinese Ink Painting and Performance

1.30-3.30 p.m.

Participants: Boon Hui (Director of Asia Society Musem), Yu Hanyu (artist), Melik Kaylan (journalist and cultural critic), Professor Eugene Wang (Chinese Art Professor and Historian), Ethan Cohen (gallerist and curator), Yin Mei (performance artist and dancer), Isaac Aden (artist and curator), and Gan Yu (postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and curator).