Episode - Wesley Tongson: The Journey

Event has passed (Fri Oct 12, 2018 - Sat Dec 15, 2018)
Chinese Culture Center
Opening Reception October 12, 6-8pm; Tue - Sat, 10am - 4pm, October 12 through December 15
Art, Museums


Opening Reception October 12, 6-8pm; Tue - Sat, 10am - 4pm, October 12 through December 15

Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco presents the first US solo exhibition in over 20 years of Hong Kong ink artist Wesley Tongson, who is now recognized as a profound voice in contemporary ink.

Wesley Tongson: The Journey, curated by Asian art scholar Catherine Maudsley, features 23 works, some never before seen. The exhibition traces his development over 30 years and brings to light his ongoing experimentation with the many methods and effects of ink.

Trained in traditional ink painting, Tongson began to explore and teach himself splash ink painting, a technique that relies on the chance interplay of water and ink on rice paper. His artistic practice increasingly focused on non-brush techniques, such as ink rubbing and marbling, and in his later years, when he had retreated from the art world and was primarily working in solitude, he abandoned the brush altogether, working with his fingers and fingernails.

"While not unprecedented, finger painting in ink is rare and involves considerable skill to do well, especially on the scale at which Tongson was working, some pieces as large as 8 feet," says Maudsley. "Full of sweeping, energetic lines and dots, Tongson's ability to maintain momentum and cohesiveness over a large-size surface is outstanding."

Tongson was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 15, a condition that, together with a fervent commitment to Zen philosophy, shaped his singular artistic vision and life. He wrote, "All these years, I have never stopped creating, working every day and dedicating myself to the arts and study of Zen so I can create landscapes from a pure, unified state of mind."

"This concise exhibition is a joyful celebration of ink art in the hands of a dedicated, creative artist," says Maudsley. "And it is literally his hands which have created his mature, dynamic ink paintings, bursting with energy. By dispensing with the brush and choosing to paint with his hands, he brings us directly in contact with the force of life."


  1. Chinese Culture Center 750 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA