Theories of Chinese Calligraphy
In Chinese calligraphy our goal is to vividly and honestly convey our mind image and intention. It does not only depend on the strokes or appearances. The substance must be over or no less than the form in a Chinese calligraphy work. Chinese calligraphy is also called “Heart Painting.” We may paint a tree or landscape. But how can we “paint” our heart in a highly encrypted or abstract form that can both convey beauty and be understood? This is not an easy subject.
at the above works, they all used the least amount of strokes and the artists’
intentions were clearly understood.
Their simplicity, transcendent, boldness, and honesty were all exemplified.
paintings of the Sung Dynasty, one could
find animals, birds, flowers, and humans that were not only accurately depicted
in shape and manner. Their internal substance, emotions, ideas, and aspiration
were also captured by the artists. Compared with Chinese brush painting that has a
physically observable subject, Chinese calligraphy has a more abstract subject
to paint – the mind. Even though Chinese calligraphy relies on its character
form, structures, and brushwork, then in what approach can a Chinese
calligrapher paint his/her heart? This is why all Chinese calligraphers
emphasize that the mind always leads the brush.
In the Tang Dynasty, both Hsu Hao ( 徐浩 ) and Yen Jen-Ching ( 顏真卿 ) inherited Wang Hsi-Chih’s calligraphy. Critics said Hsu Hao got his “skin and hair” in appearance so his work looked like Wang’s; however, Yen Jen-Ching inherited Wang’s internal substance so his work did not look like Wang’s.
Stone Drum Inscriptions ( 石鼓文 ) on ten stones are a highly regarded Zuan Shu work throughout the Chinese history. There have been numerous calligraphers practicing emulation of the work. One of the most recent and famous emulations was done by Wu Tsun-Shuo ( 吳昌碩 ). He did not emphasize on appearance and his emulation totally looked different from the original. He encrypted a high level of metaphysics and symbolized ideas to capture the spirit and essence of the original work.
Stone Drum Inscriptions (original)
"Yi Lin" by Wu Tsun-Shuo
Emulation “as is”
Chinese calligraphy is also known as "heart
painting" and a heart has no appearance or a physical object, the study of
philosophy and metaphysics are required for calligraphers at all stages.
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