Brush Ink Paper: Selections from the Collection of Dr. Thomas Kuebler

October 4 to December 21, 2014

Have you ever stood in front of a work of Asian calligraphy and wondered what you were supposed to admire? You are not alone. Asian calligraphy (and, to a lesser extent, painting) often seems esoteric and impenetrable, even for those who can read the characters. Indeed, the ability to read the words or recognize the allusions in a painting is often less important than understanding the execution of the brushstrokes. Brush Ink Paper: Selections from the Collection of Dr. Thomas Kuebler presents extraordinarily elegant examples of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and painting ranging in date from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries in an exhibition designed to guide the viewer to a greater appreciation of the history, traditions, and aesthetics of these subtle and nuanced images.

Calligraphy and painting in Asia are sister arts: they both use a flexible brush and ink on paper or silk. Both arts are firmly grounded in tradition and are governed by rules of composition, balance, and brushwork. The aim of the traditional Chinese calligrapher or painter is to express not only the form of a Chinese character or the outward appearance of a landscape but also its inner nature—its energy, life force, spirit—and, in some instances, the calligrapher’s interpretation of this spirit.

For a painting to be truly great, the brush strokes must have proper structure, proportions, and energy. And, yes, individuality and creativity play a part, but they must be grounded in a thorough assimilation of orthodox or established styles of calligraphy and painting.

Brush Ink Paper will be on display in the IU Art Museum Special Exhibitions Gallery from October 4 through December 21, 2014. There will be a free public reception on Sunday, October 19, 3:00–5:00 p.m. in the Thomas T. Solley Atrium, first floor.

Image: Zhu Qizhan (Chinese 1892-1996). Early Morning Comes into the Old Temple, The Sun Illuminates the Forest. Ink and color on paper. Gift of Caroline Kuebler from the collection of Dr. Thomas Kuebler, IU Art Museum 2013.242