Thinking with ink

Weekend Glitz | Katie Hung 17 Nov 2017

Going beyond boundaries is the style of Chloe Ho, a young contemporary ink artist based in Hong Kong.

Traditional ink paintings with technology, Chinese ink on canvas and ink in a mix of coffee as pigment are what you can expect from her latest solo exhibition, Ascendence.

Her international background, and Chinese American parentage, may give audiences a hint on unexpected combinations in her artwork. Studying at Mills College in United States, she describes her work as inclusive.

"All of that is in my art," she said. "It's both Chinese and Western. It is using both traditions and new mediums to show something new that can appeal on different levels."

Ascendence, other than the human journey, is also Ho's personal journey as an artist showing her own vision of the world. The ink art exhibition starts with the exploration of identity displaying human figures made of 3D printings.

The journey continues with other dimensions themed as nature and man in a mix of Ho's new and old paintings.

Using the tilt brush, a new tool for 3D paintings, for the first time, Ho creates an entire cosmos. The idea of crossing traditional art with technology comes from a desire to engage in a discussion about what is ink art. "Technology is a means, a vehicle, for that discussion. It confines it to a reasonable size," she said.

Ho believes technology is bringing more possibilities to artists.

"I want to provoke a discussion about how ink can evolve with a new revolution of technology happening so fast that we don't know how to deal with it. Can technology provide us with the same spiritual fulfillment as ink painting? It's a very different experience putting on goggles to look at those paintings."

Ho, who started to paint with a mix of Chinese ink and pastel at eight, said ink can be deeply meditative. "Ink is also unapologetic. You have to be fully committed to what you are doing. If you make mistake, you are done. There is no going back. That boldness and level of difficulty are what drew me to ink."

Though growing up as a shy kid, art gave Ho strength. There was a time when she did not want to be an artist because of the fear of people's judgments. Not until art school did she stop worrying.

"All young people are shy and insecure. There will be moments like that but you just get through it," she said.

Ascendence will be exhibited from today to November 30 at 3812 Gallery. Visitors can also see it at the art fair Ink Asia 2017 from December 15 to 17.

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