Chinese Calligraphy, Painting and History

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  • Topic: Chinese painting, Calligraphy, Chinese art
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  • Published : March 5, 2013
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Chinese Calligraphy

Chinese calligraphy (Brush calligraphy) is an art unique to Asian cultures. Shu (calligraphy), Hua (painting), Qin (a string musical instrument), and Qi (a strategic boardgame) are the four basic skills and disciplines of the Chinese literati.

Regarded as the most abstract and sublime form of art in Chinese culture, "Shu Fa" (calligraphy) is often thought to be most revealing of one's personality. During the imperial era, calligraphy was used as an important criterion for selection of executives to the Imperial court. Unlike other visual art techniques, all calligraphy strokes are permanent and incorrigible, demanding careful planning and confident execution. Such are the skills required for an administrator / executive. While one has to conform to the defined structure of words, the expression can be extremely creative. To exercise humanistic imagination and touch under the faceless laws and regulations is also a virtue well appreciated.

By controlling the concentration of ink, the thickness and absorptive of the paper, and the flexibility of the brush, the artist is free to produce an infinite variety of styles and forms. In contrast to western calligraphy, diffusing ink blots and dry brush strokes are viewed as a natural impromptu expression rather than a fault. While western calligraphy often pursue font-like uniformity, homogeneity of characters in one size is only a craft. To the artist, calligraphy is a mental exercise that coordinates the mind and the body to choose the best styling in expressing the content of the passage. It is a most relaxing yet highly disciplined exercise indeed for one's physical and spiritual well being. Historically, many calligraphy artists were well-known for their longevity.

Brush calligraphy is not only loved and practiced by Chinese. Koreans and Japanese equally adore calligraphy as an important treasure of their heritage. Many Japanese schools still have the tradition of having a student contest of writing big characters during beginning of a new school year. A biannual gathering commemorating the Lanting Xu by Wang Xi Zhi (The most famous Chinese calligrapher in Jin dynasty, ) is said to be held ceremonially in Japan. There is a national award of Wang Xi Zhi prize for the best calligraphy artist. Not too long ago, Korean government officials were required to excel in calligraphy. The office of Okinawa governor still displays a large screen of Chinese calligraphy as a dominating decor.

In the West, Picasso and Matisse are two artists who openly declared the influence by Chinese calligraphy on their works.

Easier - Calligraphy is the art of making beautiful or elegant handwriting. It is a fine art of skilled penmanship.

Harder - The word calligraphy literally means beautiful writing. Before the invention of the printing press some 500 years ago, it was the way books were made. Each copy was handwritten out by a scribe working in a scriptorium. The hand writing was done with quill and ink onto materials like vellum or parchment. The lettering style applied was one of the period bookhands like rustic, carolingian, blackletter, etc.

Today, there are three main types or styles of calligraphy: (1) Western or Roman, (2) Arabic, and Chinese or Oriental. This project focuses mainly on Western calligraphy with a glimpse at the other two styles.

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Wang Xizhi 王羲之

Wang Xizhi is a Chinese calligrapher. He is considered by some as the first "artist" in the Western sense, insofar as it has moved away from the official canon in force, the cursive handwriting, practicing a form of free personal and pictorial practice.

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永和九年,岁在癸丑,暮春之初,会于会稽山阴之兰亭,修禊事也。群贤毕至,少长咸集。此地有崇山峻岭,茂林修竹;又有清流激湍,映带左右,引以为流觞曲水,列坐其次。虽无丝竹管弦之盛,一觞一咏,亦足以畅叙幽情。 是日也,天朗气清,惠风和畅,仰观宇宙之大,俯察品类之盛,所以游目骋怀,足以极视听之娱,信可乐也。 夫人之相与,俯仰一世,或取诸怀抱,晤言一室之内;或因寄所托,放浪形骸之外。虽取舍万殊,静躁不同,当其欣于所遇,暂得于己,快然自足,不知老之将至。及其所之既倦,情随事迁,感慨系之矣。向之所欣,俯仰之间,已为陈迹,犹不能不以之兴怀。况修短随化,终期于尽。古人云:“死生亦大矣。”岂不痛哉!...
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