A prominent example of Wang’s monumental calligraphic abstraction, this hanging scroll features powerfully inked lines that convey a vivid sense of the artist’s physical engagement with the work. The interaction of ink and ground—especially the spatters and streaks that communicate the impact and momentum of the brush—is crucial to its appreciation. The white paper is not simply the absence of ink, it is the picture “space” into which Wang’s ink structure is thrust. The title, borrowed from a phrase in the Daoist classic Zhuangzi (ca. 300 B.C.), refers to a state of enlightenment achieved through ridding one’s mind of mundane trifles. Its literal meaning, however, “protect the white” (shou bai), may also reflect Wang’s awareness of the uninked paper as a significant component of the whole.
Signature: Signed and dated (lower right corner, in pencil): Wang Dongling 2005
Wang Dongling Chinese, Hangzhou, China (2005–13)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.