Ever since he accidentally dripped ink onto a sheet of rice paper, Nan Qi has been fascinated with dots. Nan has developed a technique of controlling the spread of ink that is based on traditional Chinese techniques of shui-mo, or inkwash painting. His works are famously composed of meticulously spaced ink dots, some of which are carefully diluted with water. While his paintings appear abstract when viewed up close, they actually form politically charged images from a distance. Nan, who grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution, has used dots to replicate portraits of Mao Zedong, and icons of contemporary consumerism like the Visa logo. Colors carry specific symbolic meaning in Nan’s work: red and pink refer to fortune and sex; gray to daily life and pollution; and green to wealth and the natural world.
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