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For over 50 years, Master Shen-Long, a multidisciplinary artist and contemporary master of the classical Chinese literati perfections of painting, poetry, and calligraphy, has pioneered new approaches to painting that has made him one of the most innovative ink artists of this generation. In the early 1990s, he developed a new abstract ink method for paper and canvas, resulting in richly detailed reversible works of art that blur the line between painting and sculpture, and expresses unlimited time, space, and endless movement. Influenced by his deep understanding of Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian philosophies, Master Shen-Long’s bold and experimental work challenges and innovates upon tradition and raises important concepts regarding mankind’s relationship with the universe.
At an early age, Master Shen-Long was an artist disciple of the Han Yu Tang, the studio of the royal prince Pu Ru (Pu Xinyu; 1896-1963), cousin of the 12th and last emperor of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) Pu Yi (1906-1967), and studied painting techniques that have long been forgotten over the centuries. As a multidisciplinary artist, Master Shen-Long works in a limitless variety of styles, formats and techniques, including ink painting, seal-carving, and ceramics. The sizes of his paintings can range from very small delicate works, to multi-sheet compositions of traditionally handmade xuan (rice) papers spanning 4 feet to 20 feet, to oversized rolls of various fabrics measuring hundreds of feet long. He employs traditional Chinese materials such as brush and ink and combines them with untraditional modern materials such as spray paint, raw canvas, a variety of fabrics and found objects—a happy marriage and crystallization of many years of artistic exploration and practice.
As a Zen Buddhist Master and founder of the Enlightenment Mind School, Master Shen-Long has published and conducted many public explanations on several essential sutras of Buddhism. Philosophically and creatively, Master Shen-Long attempts to express the inexhaustible energy of the universe in his writings and through his art. He created the theory and philosophy of “enlightenment power and ability” and the concept of “enlightenment power and ability in art creation” to describe the pure inherent nature of all beings, and the use of one’s inherent wisdom to create art and one’s life.
Over the past few years, Master Shen-Long has charted a dramatic transformation in his work, utilizing all his talents within large-scale reversible and sculptural paintings that express his expertise in painting, calligraphy, poetic composition, and material exploration. On display in this exhibition is a selection of Master Shen-Long’s most recent oversized paper and canvas paintings, some measuring hundreds of feet long, as well as rarely seen delicate works on handmade xuan (rice) paper and raw silk and ceramic sculptures, the majority of which are being exhibited for the first time in a U.S. museum. In celebration of the great state of Texas, also on display for the first time is a selection of Bowie knives with each of their steel blades uniquely carved by the artist. The Bowie knife is a type of fixed blade fighting knife famously used by American pioneer and folk hero James “Jim” Bowie who is said to have died at the Alamo. All of these graphic works illustrate the range and depth of Master Shen-Long’s artistic practice.
A living master of the classical Chinese literati perfections of painting, poetry and calligraphy, Master Shen-Long’sartwork has been presented at various institutions around the world. This exhibition not only serves as the artist’s mid-career retrospective but is also the artist’s first solo museum presentation in Texas.
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