Posted on December 26, 2012

The ancient medium of ink painting is given double vision by two female artists in “Song of the Siren,” currently exhibiting at Art Plus Shanghai.

Cindy Ng and Marie-Isabelle Callier translate ink painting into contemporary panoramas, each using their own distinct processes to communicate a narrative of nature through metaphor and realism. Ng’s circular canvases of elegantly eerie chemical horizons are a charming match with Callier’s barren blue branches, making for a graceful transition from one work to another.


Ng also debuts a video piece in the exhibition. Ink Walk is a lush visual interpretation of the artist’s methods and medium—an amalgamation of dark inky liquids poured onto a glass surface are manipulated to gush and drift unpredictably, mimicking the natural flow of ink on canvas and paper. Her paintings express this mutability with fluid lines and liquid landscapes. Having trained in etching at London’s Slade School of Art, the award-winning Macau-born Ng brings a meticulous etcher’s eye to new watery methods, giving the wildness of the ink a smooth, controlled beauty in her paintings, both on canvas and rice paper.

Meanwhile, Callier’s approach marries ink with wax on paper, creating gradients and textures that are unpredictable and provocative in her sinuous depictions of stark tree branches. Expressing the volatility of nature, her paintings expose both immense fragility as well as immense obstinacy, showcasing the visual power of contemporary ink painting. The globetrotting Shanghai-based Belgian artist and illustrator gives a refreshing new freedom to her medium—“Working with the running ink on waxed paper, I discovered that the trees and branches could dance under my brush,” says Callier, “even sometimes recalling human figures, playing hide and seek.”

Exhibited as a pair, the two artists share more than just a medium, but also echo one another’s themes of fluidity and freedom. Mutual influences of femininity and nature’s existentialism are also evident in both’s works. The effect is ethereal and otherworldly—a match made in heaven.


“Autant de traces qui viennent prolonger le dessin, ajoutant de délicates ramifications à ses arbres, ou de fines goutelettes qui soulignent leur silhouette et donnent de la profondeur à leurs formes élancées et complexes, parfois torturées, toujours évidentes. (…) Le travail de l’une comme de l’autre nous emmène assez loin des traditionnelles “encre de Chine”… et dans leurs gammes de nuances se dessine une modernité qui s’ancre pourtant radicalement dans une longue histoire.” par Nathalie D’Andrea