8 March – 30 July 2017
HOW BLACK IS DARKNESS?
The ancient Chinese got their ink from smoky oil lamps, brushing away deposited soot and mixing it into a paste that hardened into “stones”. This black was pure, indelible and did not fade, and they fell in love with it. They used it not only for writing but for painting, which they saw as just another way to express their thoughts. By adjusting the ink’s dilution and the density of their brushstrokes, painters could create a multitude of shades, from deepest blue-black to palest dove grey. Black had always been the colour of mystery, night, the void. The better the artists got to know black ink, the more superficial, even gaudy, colour seemed. As the Daoist philosopher Laozi declared: “Colours cause the eye to go blind.” Black—utterly simple yet infinitely subtle—allowed one to see the truth.
Chinese artists no longer live in a simple, natural, orderly world. They get their blacks not just from ink stones but from printer cartridges, spray cans, propane torches, X-ray film, newsprint, polyester, computer bits and steel. And they use blacks to convey realities the classical masters never dreamed of: oil spills, air pollution, megacities, mass production and political machinations. The artists in this show don’t shun light or colour, but in using them they follow Laozi’s advice: “Know the white, but hold to the black.” Containing more than ever, the dark also conceals more than ever. And it matters more than ever that we see.
THE DARK MATTERS is drawn completely from Judith Neilson’s renowned White Rabbit Collection.
CURATOR: David Williams
Please click on the artists’ names below to discover more information about each artist and their work.
JENNIFER WEN MA
video animation, 10 min 40 sec
chromogenic colour print, 100 x 67 cm
chromogenic colour print, 67 x 100 cm
Grace 1, 2014, inkjet print, 160 x 227 cm
Trace series, 2015–16,
Polaroid emulsion lifts, dim variable
Billennium Waves, 2015,
video, 4 min 3 sec
The Sea in the Sea 60 and 61, 2015,
ink on paper, 124 x 246 cm
Assembly Line—Silent Series 2, 10, 35, 2012–14, videos
A Packet of Salt, 2013, video, 7 min 26 sec
A Cart of Coal, 2015, video, 10 min 52 sec
CHEN CHUN-HAO (TAIWAN)
12 Animals—Rabbit, Monkey, Chicken, 2015, headless nails on canvas on board, ea 60 x 60 cm