Luo Qing's Paintings of Post-Industrial Taiwan and Their Incompatibility with Guohua

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Wang, Jen-Yu
Kuo, Jason
This thesis examines the career and artwork of Luo Qing in the context of past artistic movements and current academic discourse. Using Luo Qing and his work as a point of departure, this thesis aims to combine diachronic and synchronic concerns in the arts, specifically art that is made in the medium of ink. Luo Qing is famous for his inventive style in poetry and ink paintings. The two bodies of work selected,"Here Comes the UFO" and "Asphalt Road", not only exemplify his creative spirit in redefining ink art, they also establish him as a member of the modern Chinese literati, a scholar artist, in Taiwan. Both series were Luo's ongoing projects in the 1980s and the 1990s. A conflict between the traditional and the new was present in Chinese politics and culture at the time, and this tension affected the creative community. The dynamics between Chinese imperial history and modern Chinese industry is the subject of most of Luo's work. He creatively portrayed conflicts between traditional Chinese heritage and contemporary Western commercialism. "Here Comes the UFO"and " Asphalt Road" both depict the modern subject of industrialization in traditional Chinese ink painting format. Luo Qing's novel way of approaching Chinese artistic traditions, both in painting and poetry, validated its importance as a new paradigm. Luo's artistic world depicted in these two bodies of work was representative of a tumultuous era in Chinese history that took place not in China, but in Taiwan. In stark contrast, the current academic discourse on ink art originated in China and quickly spread through the research of Chinese scholars, most of whom work in North American academia. Compelling debates on ink art's importance and passionate proclamation associating ink art with Chinese nationhood are popular subjects. These subjects, however, are distant and irrelevant to Luo's early cityscapes. The contemporary paradigm may ignore why Luo Qing came to international fame. The first part of this thesis profiles Luo's two bodies of work and provides a comprehensive survey of his training and inspiration from the past. The second part connects these works with a thorough overview of scholarship on contemporary ink art. Using Luo's work as an intersecting point of reference, I hope to revive Luo Qing's significance to the Chinese art community and address specific, larger issues concerning contemporary theories on ink art.