M+, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority give global context to ink art with The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+

M+, the highly anticipated museum of visual culture at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, will exhibit selections from its exceptional ink art collection for the first time ever this fall. The Weight of Lightness: Ink Art at M+ (The Weight of Lightness) will explore the pivotal role of ink art in global visual culture, offering fresh perspectives using cross-disciplinary and geographically diverse approaches. The exhibition will run from 13 October 2017 – 14 January 2018 at the M+ Pavilion.

While ink art generally refers to visual works with lineage to ink painting and calligraphy in the Asian tradition, M+ is taking a more expansive view with The Weight of Lightness, which will present a transnational, interdisciplinary perspective on ink art from the 1960s to the present day. Throughout this period, artists have examined the practices and concepts of traditional ink art to develop new expressions and techniques influenced by their environments, personal experiences and artistic tendencies from outside their own cultures. These experimentations have resulted in varied applications and interpretations of the ink aesthetic, blossoming in different geographic locations and under different political, social and individual circumstances.

The Weight of Lightness explores how ink art is not only a medium, but also a crucial aesthetic in contemporary visual culture. Featuring works in various media including painting, calligraphy, installation, photography and moving image that demonstrate artists’ diverse explorations. Nearly 60 works by 42 artists from more than 10 regions – representing Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, India, the US, Spain and more – will be on display.

The exhibition’s title illustrates the tension at the core of ink art between the material and the spiritual. This relationship permeates the three thematic sections of the exhibition:

  • ‘Scripts, Symbols, Strokes’ showcases how artists channel their communicative impulses through writing, gesturing and mark-making in direct or implicit dialogue with the arts of calligraphy and drawing.
  • ‘Desire for Landscape’ studies how landscape, arguably the most explored genre of the East Asian painting tradition, continues to inspire a wide range of artistic expressions.
  • ‘Beyond Material’ focuses on the notions of transformation and transcendence by showing artistic investigations in the materiality of ink, water and paper, and by exploring the emotional and philosophical dimensions of ink beyond the physical world.

Artists featured in the exhibition include (in alphabetical order): Irene Chou, Hidai Nankoku, Hsiao Chin, Hung Fai, Kan Tai-keung, Koon Wai Bong, Kwok Mang-ho (Frog King), Lee Ufan, Leung Kui Ting, Liang Quan, Liu Kuo-sung, Lui Shou-kwan, Ni Youyu, Tong Yang-Tze, Wucius Wong, Xu Bing, Yang Jiechang and Yuan Jai. (See Annex for a full list of 42 artists)

‘Ink art has been designated as an important area of focus that underlines the museum’s distinctive voice in world visual culture. The Weight of Lightness will introduce audiences to new, cross-cultural perspectives to view ink art in our collection,’ said Ms Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+.

Dr Lesley Ma, Curator, Ink Art for M+ said, ‘By make existing boundaries more porous through this exhibition, we show how ink art—endowed with the weight of traditions and invigorated by the lightness of its material and the experimental vision of artists—possesses boundless potential.’

Accompanying the exhibition is an exciting line-up of public programmes that demonstrate ink art’s relevance to other forms of modern and contemporary artistic productions, each one highlighting the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority’s cross-disciplinary approach. These include M+’s first music programme, featuring a curated playlist of contemporary compositions inspired by ink art; commissioned dance performances for the M+ Pavilion by Hong Kong choreographer Allen Lam and students of the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts (HKAPA), led by David Steele, Dean of the HKAPA’s School of Dance, in collaboration with the Authority’s Performing Arts department; and the M+ Screening “Stillness in Motion”, which explores moving image works influenced by the contemplative nature of ink art.

The curatorial team for The Weight of Lightness consists of Lesley Ma; Minnie Cheung, Curatorial Assistant, Visual Art; Jessie Kwok, Curatorial Assistant, Visual Art; and Sharon Lee, Research Assistant. Learning and interpretation programmes are organised by Athena Wu, Associate Curator; Mou Tse, Assistant Curator; and Stanley Chu, Curatorial Assistant.


About M+
Encompassing 20th- and 21st-century art, design, architecture and moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia and beyond, M+ will be one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world. Located adjacent to the Art Park on the waterfront, the museum building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is scheduled to open in 2019.

About West Kowloon Cultural District
Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. The vision of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces and M+, West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances and cultural events, as well as provide 23 hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.


Lesley Ma
Lesley Ma is Curator, Ink Art for M+. She was involved in the 2015 Mobile M+: Live Art and organised M+ Matters: Postwar Abstraction in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in 2014. Previously, Ma co-curated Great Crescent: Art and Agitation in the 1960s—Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan at Para Site in Hong Kong in 2013, which also toured Tokyo and Mexico City in 2015 and 2016. Prior to that, she served as Project Director at Cai Guo-Qiang studio in New York (2005–2009) and Curatorial Coordinator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011–2012). Ma holds a B.A. in history and science from Harvard College, a M.A. in museum studies from New York University, and a PhD in art history, theory and criticism from the University of California, San Diego. She is also a recipient of the Fifth Yishu Awards for Critical Writing on Contemporary Chinese Art in 2015.


General Information

Exhibition period:
13 October 2017 – 14 January 2018
11 am – 6 pm
Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays
Closed on 25 December 2017 and 1 January 2018

M+ Pavilion, WKCD

For further information, please visit the website at: 

List of Artists:

Etel Adnan

American, born Lebanon, 1925

Irene Chou

Hong Kong, born China. 1924–2011

Chuang Che

American, born China, 1934

Fong Chung-Ray

American, born China, 1934

Hidai Nankoku

Japanese, 1912–1999

Hsiao Chin

Taiwanese, born China, 1935

Hsu Yu-Jen

Taiwanese, born 1951

Hung Fai

Hong Kong, born 1988

Ishimoto Yasuhiro

Japanese, born United States. 1921–2012

Kan Tai-keung

Hong Kong, born China, 1942

Koon Wai Bong

Hong Kong, born 1974

Kwok Mang-ho (Frog King)

Hong Kong, born China, 1947

Kwon Young-Woo

Korean, 1926–2013

Lee Ufan 

Korean, born 1936

Leung Kui Ting

Hong Kong, born China, 1945

Li Huasheng

Chinese, born 1944

Li Huayi

American, born China, 1948

Li Yuan-chia

British, born China. 1929–1994

Liang Quan

Chinese, born 1948

Richard Lin

Taiwanese, 1933–2011

Liu Kuo-sung

Taiwanese, born China, 1932

Lui Shou-kwan

Hong Kong, born China. 1919 –1975

Nick Mauss

American and German, born United States, 1980

Morita Shiryū

Japanese, 1912–1998

Ni Youyu

Chinese, born 1984

Nam June Paik

American, born Korea. 1932–2006

Park Seo-Bo

Korean, born 1932

Peng Wei

Chinese, born 1974

Qiu Anxiong

Chinese, born 1972

Qiu Deshu

Chinese, born 1948

Qiu Shihua

Chinese, born 1940

Krishna Reddy

American, born India, 1925

Shan Fan

German, born China, 1959

José María Sicilia

Spanish, born 1954

Tong Yang-Tze

Taiwanese, born China, 1942

Tseng Yuho

American, born China. 1925-2017

Wucius Wong

Hong Kong, born China, 1936

Xu Bing

Chinese, born 1955

Yang Jiechang

German, born China, 1956

Yuan Jai

Taiwanese, born China, 1941

Zhang Yanzi

Chinese, born 1967

Zheng Chongbin

American, born China, 1961

Coming Soon from M+

This year M+ continues its mission to collect, exhibit and interpret 20th and 21st century visual art from an Asian perspective with a noteworthy event.

Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium seeks to re-examine I. M. Pei –one of the most celebrated yet under-theorised architects of the 20th and early 21st centuries – on the occasion of the renowned architect’s 100th birthday year. Two linked conferences will explore Pei’s six-decade career. Rethinking Pei is organised by M+, the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Architecture. It will be held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 12-13 October and in Hong Kong from 14-15 December, investigating the architect from the intersecting vantage points of the two regional poles with which he’s most closely linked through the eyes of architectural historians and practitioners among others.

For more information, please visit the website at: