For a decade between 1989 and 1999, Yang worked on the series 100 Layers of Ink, to which this work (one from a set of three) belongs. It is the result of focused repetition: Yang applied ink to the same pieces of paper, day after day, until the paper was completely saturated. As the paper reaches saturation, the ink takes on a shimmery, luminescent quality, and the paper itself shifts from a two-dimensional surface to a three-dimensional object, merging figure and ground, coming close to sculpture. Though these are the same materials used by literati to make traditional paintings, Yang has reinvented them here, removing entirely the artist’s gesture as an index of meaning.
Acquired in 2004 directly from the artist by current owner, a private collector in Hong Kong.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.