Seah Yu Ying, the director of White Space Art Asia, is a second generation gallerist. He started the gallery in 2008 to represent young, contemporary ink artists from Asia. “I grew up surrounded by art and running around in a gallery so you could say my interest developed very early. I bought my first Jia You Fu ink painting from my father in my early twenties, through six monthly installment payments, and that painting still has pride of place in my home. I’ve been collecting for over 22 years now, so I am first and foremost a collector,” says Seah.
Spending time in China changed his perspective on Chinese ink. “I came to know many fine artists who opened my eyes to Chinese ink and the fundamental philosophical differences in how to interpret art, as well as how Chinese ink developed. It gave me a very different perspective and set me thinking about why Chinese ink, with its 2000 years of development, has not been able to respond to the zeitgeist of Western contemporary art,” says Seah.
Seah’s interest now extends to the next generation of painters including students of Jia. “I eventually settled on collecting Zhao Xiao Hai and Xu Hua Xin. Both artists possess incredible ink technique and approach the purity of black ink in very different ways,” says Seah. “I see in the younger contemporary Chinese ink artists artwork that can bring a very different conversation to the global art stage. It’s not a competition of East versus West, but an opportunity for a richer, more diverse conversation. This is why I collect Chinese ink,” says Seah.
Illustrations by Kimberley Batchelor
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