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Kaleidoscope: The Art of Emotional Writing

Beijing photographer Diana Coca gives us a closer look at the "well-knit" work that is Chinese calligraphy

08·08·2012

Kaleidoscope: The Art of Emotional Writing

Beijing photographer Diana Coca gives us a closer look at the "well-knit" work that is Chinese calligraphy

08·08·2012

Calligraphy has been an important feature of Chinese culture for the past 4000 years and is still widely practiced today. While it’s intended as a form of writing and communication, Chinese calligraphy isn’t simply ‘good writing’ or a way to make characters look beautiful. Instead, it’s an emotional and abstract form of art that carries the thoughts and feelings of the artist. In the same way that a person wouldn’t ask “What is it?” when viewing a Western abstract painting, one doesn’t need to ask “What is this word?” when viewing Chinese calligraphy.

Tu Meng of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) developed 120 expressions to describe different styles of calligraphy, which can help viewers to understand what the emotional side of calligraphy is all about. Here are the first 14 from his list:

• ability: a work of ability presents a thousands possibilities

• mysterious: a mysterious work stirs the imagination

• careful: a carefully executed work demands inspiration and technique

• carefree: a carefree style has no fixed direction

• balance: a well-balanced composition indicates serenity

• unrestrained: an unrestrained compositions implies daring

• mature: a mature work is free from sentimentality

• virile: a virile work is one in which strength is paramount

• grace: a gracefully executed work has no peer

• sober: a sober work is one without pretension

• well-knit: a well-knit work is one that is both well-conceived and well-developed

• rich: a rich work implies perfect harmony between brushwork and ink

• exuberant: an exuberant work is one full of feeling and vigor

• classic: a scholastic work can be termed classical

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