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Words outside words : Exploration of varied calligraphy presentation styles with the use of Chinese antiquities

TSO Cheuk Yim

In the art of Chinese calligraphy, art works must consist of a sense of ancient time and an ancient element. The calligraphy rubbing of renowned Chinese calligraphers, such as Wang Xishi, Su Shi, has become models for literati for thousand of years. During Qing Dynasty, literati were keen to look for ancient elements, which had never been seen. Literati at that time had a fancy for studying stone stele, collecting calligraphy rubbing and researching bronze inscriptions, which did not happen before. Their fancy for ancient feel led them to explore new trends. Apart from traditional rubbing, literati looked for more primitive rubbing and calligraphy relics as their learning models. The renaissance of seal script and clerical script in the Qing Dynasty was a significant change in the history of calligraphy.

The models for the Qing literati when learning the seal script and clerical script were writings on the base material. The peculiarity of the based material in their seal script was demonstrated in the presentation. As artifacts were continuously excavated during the Qing Dynasty, contemporary seal script artists gradually copied characters engraved on the unearthed relics onto their own seals, thereby developing a new theory of “studying seals outside the seal field”. Hence, seal script artists started copying characters from different sources and kinds of material of ancient time, including coins, bronze mirrors, masonry and sealing clay, forming a different kind of interest.

I follow the practice of “studying seals outside the seal field”. With the use of stele calligraphy as foundation and the adoption of bronze inscriptions in my art piece, it is my desire to probe for a new style of presentation so that the distinctive qualities of the base material of the ancient time can recur with the employment of contemporary art skills and materials. It is hoped that the recurrence of the origin of the Chinese characters coupled with the characteristics of writing brush can bring out a strong feeling of ancient time while maintaining a personal characteristic.