Back to the Past to Conserve a Work of Contemporary Calligraphy
When restoring and preserving one of the largest ink paintings in the M+ Collections, the conservation team had to get inventive, using both modern tools and ancient techniques from the Asian scroll mounting tradition.
Hidai Nankoku’s Work (1964) is an immense 3.5 x 4.6 metre ink artwork. A documentary video recorded the performance in which the artist created the work: wielding an oversized brush and using the strength of his whole body, Hidai paints a large piece of paper lying on the ground outdoors, holding the brush upright like in regular calligraphy practice. However, his lines go against the standard movement and direction of calligraphic strokes and have no specific meaning, rejecting conventional practices of calligraphy.
Below, M+ Paper Conservator Jo-Fan Huang explains how she and her team dealt with this large work.