Tuesday, June 30, 2009

中国书法重笔法 Chinese Calligraphy: The Brushwork

We have noted that the essence of Chinese calligraphy is actually to write the beautiful Chinese character beautifully. It is therefore not surprised that two key elements of Chinese calligraphy have not changed much since Han dynasty. The two keys are: the structure of the Chinese character and the techniques of using the brush.
We have also noted that the Chinese character is the first form of Chinese calligraphy. Therefore, there is a limit that calligraphers can do to change the structure of Chinese characters.
However, the use of brush is unique in the Chinese art. It is not surprising that the brush techniques are so much emphasized.
The brush strokes give Chinese calligraphy rhythm and beauty and they depict the subject's outward and inner qualities. At the same time, they reveal the individuality and style of the calligrapher himself.
Only those who master the secrets of operating a brush and principles of structuring a character can be considered to be outstanding calligraphers.
Zhao Mengfu of the Yuan Dynasty once said, ‘In learning Chinese calligraphy, one must chew on and study the ancient masterpieces and comprehend the operating principles of brushes of ancient calligraphers so as to benefit from them.’ He also said, ‘Chinese calligraphy should focus on operating brushwork as well as character structures. The character structures may change over time but the principles of operating brushes never change.’
Since Zhong Yao and Wang Xizhi, no matter how the structure of Chinese characters changed and new styles of writing were invented, the norms set by Zhong and Wang were not violated in most cases. To create a new style of writing is not an easy task. It requires artistic insights and inspirations. The style of writing is also closely related to operation and disposition of strokes, spacing, rhythm, and etc.
It is no wonder that calligraphers would spend their life time to master the techniques of operating the brush.

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