© 2015

Jizi and His Art in Contemporary China


  • A case study in the contemporary practice of Chinese ink painting

  • Resolves not only the history of aesthetics issues but also the concern about authentic art criticism

  • Presents a unique perspective on thinking about and understanding ink painting issues


Part of the Chinese Contemporary Art Series book series (CCAS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Wang Chunchen

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
  3. David Brubaker

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. David Adam Brubaker, Chunchen Wang
      Pages 11-24
    3. David Adam Brubaker, Chunchen Wang
      Pages 25-38
    4. David Adam Brubaker, Chunchen Wang
      Pages 39-58
    5. David Adam Brubaker, Chunchen Wang
      Pages 59-72
    6. David Adam Brubaker, Chunchen Wang
      Pages 73-91
    7. David Adam Brubaker, Chunchen Wang
      Pages 93-108
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 109-155

About this book


This interdisciplinary study promotes the thesis that some contemporary Chinese ink artists succeed in using principles of traditional Chinese aesthetics to convey the union of self with nature, others and the universe. The investigation is a case study of the writings and paintings of Jizi, an ink-wash artist in Beijing, who combines images of icy mountains, Tibetan landscapes, cosmic vistas, and enclosures of personal existence. Jizi’s success in expressing the unification of these dimensions is confirmed by developing and applying an interpretation of Jing Hao’s classic description of the authentic image, which resonates with the vitality of nature. To find words for resonance with visible nature, the inquiry extends to such writers as Li Zehou, Arthur Danto and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  In short, an account of authenticity in Chinese ink painting is offered experimentally as a means for assessing whether contemporary Chinese artworks are expressive of Chinese philosophy and culture.  The text includes stylistic comparisons with artists. The result is an appreciation of the healing influence of Chinese ink art in a global culture that is vibrant, complex, diverse and affirming of the present.


In this rigorous, far-reaching, and original analysis of contemporary ink art painting, Brubaker and Wang focus our attention  on the work of one independent painter, Jizi, whose work exemplifies an uncanny marriage between ink art and contemporary concerns. . In the central chapters, Brubaker persuasively argues that in this work Jizi captures principles essential to traditional Chinese aesthetics—articulated in terms of wholeness, emptiness, and visibility--that enable the works to express the unification of the self with nature and the universe as a whole. It does this through forms that are innovative and part of artistic practices and discourses that are becoming increasingly global.

Mary Wiseman,

The City University of New York


This important publication focuses on the evocative ink wash paintings of an artist who has, over the course of decades, demonstrated an unwavering commitment to exploring the technical, formal, philosophical and experiential dimensions of his chosen medium. The essays, commentaries and critical reflections collected in this volume present unique perspectives on Jizi's practice, significantly contributing to the growing body of scholarship on the continuing vitality of the ink wash tradition in the global contemporary.

Dr. Wenny Teo,

The Courtauld Institute of Art


Through an in-depth study of the ink painting practice of contemporary Chinese artist Jizi, the authors discover Chinese ink painting’s philosophical perspectives, cosmic foundations, and contemporary possibilities. They also uncovered a way to enter into the artist’s rich and profound spiritual world; through Jizi’s expansive visual patterning and refined spiritual imagery, he activates a long and great cultural tradition.

Yu Yang,

Central Academy of Fine Arts




Aesthetics and Picturing Unification Chinese Ink Art Circumstances and Self-Cultivation Contemporary Chinese Art Jizi and His Art Painting Heritages Red Flag Commune Sensuous Noumenon Unification and Uniqueness

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Art and DesignWuhan Textile UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.China Central Academy of Fine ArtsBeijingChina

About the authors

 Dr. David Brubaker is Professor of aesthetics and painting in the School of Art and Design at Wuhan Textile University. He received an M.F.A. in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Aesthetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His publications include book chapters for Subversive Strategies in Contemporary Chinese Art, Buddhism and MerleauPonty, and Feminist Interpretations of Merleau-Ponty, as well journal articles and art reviews. He is active as a painter and printmaker.

Dr. Wang Chunchen is Associate Professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts China, as well as an Adjunct Curator of Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University; in 2013 he is appointed as Curator of Pavilion of China at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Also editor-in-chief of The Chinese Contemporary Art Series published by Springer–Verlag, Germany and Deputy Principal Editor of Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art in UK. In 2009 he was honored with the coveted Chinese Contemporary Art Award. The result of this award is the writing and publication of Art Intervenes in Society. Wang has also played a great influence on Chinese contemporary art criticism by his translations of over ten books of art history and theory: such as After the End of Art (Arthur C. Danto), The Abuse of Beauty, Art Since 1940, Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985, etc. In 2013 his two volumes of essays are published: The Democracy of Art and The Politics of Images.


Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Jizi and His Art in Contemporary China
  • Book Subtitle Unification
  • Authors David Adam Brubaker
    Chunchen Wang
  • Series Title Chinese Contemporary Art Series
  • Series Abbreviated Title Chinese Contemporary Art Series
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015
  • Publisher Name Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-662-44928-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-662-51475-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-662-44929-5
  • Series ISSN 2199-9058
  • Series E-ISSN 2199-9066
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 155
  • Number of Illustrations 38 b/w illustrations, 53 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Cultural Studies
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The overall work is an excellent and rigorous study of an important artist with far-reaching ramifications for future analysis and application to the emergent global market.” (Jeffrey Dippmann, China Review International, Vol. 21 (3-4), 2014)