Olal’Art Presents “Black / White Quotes” An Introspective Exhibition


There is a contradiction in art. It is a form of expression yet it is being pigeonholed into set categories and even nationalities. Such is the case for contemporary abstract ink art; those from the West see this art form as originating in China. However, China does not classify contemporary abstract ink art as Chinese or Western because this painting style deviates from the mainstream of ink painting.

This is an ongoing conversation and the through line of “Black / White Quotes”, an art exhibition which features the collaborative efforts of artists Zhang Zhao Hui and Hélène Le Chatelier. This coming together is a showcase where oriental aesthetics meets contemporary abstract art, and visitors are encouraged to ponder and interact with the works of art.

In this infinite journey of exploration, both artists have chosen to express themselves in colours of black, white, grey and others. The colour black carries with it various meanings and associations; more often it has the connotation of being bold and symbolises traditionality.

On the other hand, white is the culmination of all chromatic colours and is often thought to represent purity or a new start and endeavour. While grey, the mix of black and white, stands for the inherent ambiguity in this world.

Nothing is strictly dichotomous, and the “mixture” of these two hues encapsulates the ephemeral and constant transformation of objects, thoughts, and the self in the light and shadow of time.

Zhang Zhaohui sees traditional Chinese ink painting’s agility and adaptable brushwork as a potential focal point in contemporary art. He adeptly reconciles seeming contradictions of eternity and ephemerality, tradition and modernity in his artwork by skillfully employing fluid lines that constantly transform.

Through this artistic approach, Zhang simplifies and clarifies the complexities of reality such as international politics and socio-economic issues more palatable for understanding by making them accessible for everyday use. His works are even compared to principles of optics and atomic physics, particularly the periodic structure produced by light waves or photons during filtered movement, which aligns with Zhang’s unique ink rhythm. 

Impression IV (2021), Chinese ink on rice paper
Impression VI (2021), Chinese ink on rice paper

In comparison, Hélène Le Chatelier’s artwork delves into the intriguing interplay between memory, social context, and intimate spaces. Through her inked human landscapes, paper works, and abstract landscapes, she explores the body as both a physical and metaphorical landscape, challenging conventional notions of representation and reality.

Her art invites viewers to rue retrospectively, prompting questions about the boundaries between inner and outer spaces and the complex relationships among memory, emotion, and our physical environment.

Viewers ready to embark on this experiential journey are encouraged to head down to 27A Arab Street, Singapore 199726, from now to 30 April — every Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm to 7pm.

Head over to www.olalaworks.com for information or please contact: info@olalaworks.com

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