The Enlightened Vision exhibition was a study of the crucial role Asian art played in the work of American Abstract Expressionist, Robert Motherwell (1915-1991). The exhibition featured 38 limited edition prints by Motherwell, including some from his well-known Elegy series, shown alongside a collection of Chinese calligraphy. Also on view will be one of Motherwell’s iconic paintings, ‘Elegy to the Spanish Republic 1958’ valued at US$2m. This was the first time these works by Motherwell was exhibited in Asia.
Motherwell acknowledged the influence of Asian art on his work, specifically Zen painting and Chinese calligraphy. In the exhibition, visitors were able to see how Motherwell absorbed some of the key principles of Zen painting- the exploration of space in a composition and the role of paint itself. The show also illustrated Motherwell’s adoption of the spontaneous and rhythmic nature of calligraphy.
Through his work, Motherwell explored universal themes such as human mortality, but he also used an abstract, non-referential visual language to do this. In his Elegies to the Spanish Republic series (featured in the show), Motherwell comments not only upon the human suffering of the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s but creates abstract symbols to describe the inexorable cycle of life and death.