Calligraphy

 

Calligraphy, literally “beautiful writing,” is one of the traditional four arts dating back to the earliest days of Chinese history. For the Chinese, calligraphy, the ancient art of the written word, is not just a method of communication but also a means of expressing the dynamic forces of the natural world.

A Chinese calligrapher’s tools, like thos`e of a painter, are comprised of four basic items that are commonly referred to as the “four treasures of the study”. They are the brush, ink, ink stone, and paper.

Concerned with both the present and a long ago past, calligraphy is at once the most rigorously convention- bound and the most fiercely individualistic of the graphic arts. It was once an important critical standard for the Chinese literati in the imperial era and now prevails not only in China but also worldwide as a unique branch of art. Unlike other visual art techniques, all calligraphy strokes are permanent and inflexible, 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 become an artist or expert in calligraphy, one has to practice word by word and stroke by stroke until the spirit of the practice gets into one’s mind. Just as Chinese Qi Gong, the Chinese brush calligraphy can temper a person into a state in which one can apply sub-consciousness absorbed from daily practice to control the concentration of ink and the compatibility of font and size of each piece or word.

 

 

Controlling the concentration of ink, the thickness and absorption 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 pursues 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.