An Insight into Yu-ning Yang’s Paintings

By Shen Yu-chang

Yang Yu-ning, Landscape, 2021, Ink on Paper, 73 x 139 cm © Yang Yu-ning

Yang Yu-ning opted for vellum paper, ink and other classic oriental painting materials for this series of creation. Nevertheless, her artworks from this series rise above the boundaries defining ink painting and calligraphy painting.

Her profound adeptness at utilizing the oriental painting materials demonstrates vividly in the exquisite brush strokes captured by the vellum paper and the grainy mate effects delivered by the su mo — literally meaning overnight ink, a revived dried-up ink with water. The combination of vellum paper and su mo, forms unpredictable overlapping of light and shadow seen in wrinkled fabric and broken irregular velvet surface.

On her paintings, we see steady grainy strokes of perfect moisture overlay and spread on the surface visited by goat hair brushes soaked up in su mo with no traces of excessive ink or dry brushes.

Yu-ning is an expert in ink. However, instead of the conventional approach, repeated strokes to darken and strengthen the object, she prefers to dip the brushes in ink of various shades of black. With one brush one color tone at one go, it creates interesting color contrast delivered by spontaneous impulse and speed.

One might associate the wide-brushed strokes on her paintings with the ones found in oil paintings, dragging with heavy paint. However, the distinctive features of su mo, blurry outline with grainy texture bring viewers’ attention back to the sensation of lightness conveyed via water-soluble mediums. It is this particular light and transparent quality that perfectly captures certain fleeting light.

Yang Yu-ning, Blue Lace Flowers, 2022, Ink on Paper, 60 x 55 cm © Yang Yu-ning

Even though this certain fleeting light exists neither in calligraphy nor painting, people are quite familiar with it in this time of modernity. It is the light essential for photography. Yu-ning paints with rapid brushes. Before a stroke is dry, another stroke is painted over it. When the painting is totally dry, various strokes done in various times surface with various tones of ink. It reminds one of the film- developing processes. The contrast between the thick black images and the pure white paper is somewhat like the ones in the negative films. Its delicate greyish tone and the su mo characteristic grainy feature also prompt up one to relate to Daguerreotype.

The way Yu-ning employs the vellum paper and ink in her art creation is something between painting and photo images. Although she chooses ink as the medium, her artworks communicate with the language of images, her swift control of the sensitive materials, vellum paper and su mo, allows her to express her strong and direct visual experience toward images, The grainy texture and the wide-brushed traces conjure the sensation felt at the sight of the finger mark left on the dust surface, a reply failed to arrive at the end of time.

Bishop’s flowers. Photo: Yang Yu-ning