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Western approaches

Jackson Pollock

In a series paintings on paper from around 1951, Jackson Pollock abandoned his signature all-over patterning, beginning, once again, to use lines as ways of describing shapes and forms, though the lines still possess an expressive character of their own. In these paintings he gradually worked away from dizzying lyricism of the drip drawings, adopting rather conventional brush strokes, in which latent images and symbols can be discerned among rhythmic arcs and slashes of ink. A number of the works were explicitly figurative. Like the drawing below, the human forms were in fact portraits of the artist.


Untitled, 1951, ink on rice paper

Mark Tobey

Mark Tobey visited Japan and China in 1934. He began his ink paintings in 1957, taking the Eastern medium as the other side of coin, from white to black, from liner to nebulous. Like white line paintings for which he is most known, his techniques of ink painting originated from the East. However, the continuous connection of hand and brush seemed broken in his ink paintings. His images were mysteriously born in the gap of between gesture and surface - forms seemed to blossom of their own volition. Through the paintings, he approached a mystical unity. “Perhaps by painting that way,” he said, “I freed myself or thought I did. Perhaps I wanted to paint without too much thought.”

Chinese painting

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