Calligraphy in the Exhibition
Due to the fragility of works on paper and silk, the screens, scrolls, and paintings in this exhibition are switched periodically. In January 2007, the Museum replaced several delicate pieces with new ones, among them two that feature calligraphy. A writing style that originated in China, calligraphy has been widely practiced and revered in East Asian cultures as one of the essential visual art forms. Calligraphy styles number in the thousands, but within the East Asian tradition there are some general standardizations, which include the seal, clerical, cursive, semicursive and regular scripts. The styles of this beautiful writing influenced literati and ink painting, which are accomplished with similar tools and techniques.
One of the newly installed calligraphies, a late eighteenth- to early nineteenth-century screen, consists of Chinese poems brushed in the standard cursive, or grass, script. These poems celebrate the beautiful scenery of the Xiao and Xiang rivers, tributaries of one of China’s largest lakes, West Lake. The second work now on view is a calligraphy in a series of eight scrolls created in 2001 by artist Son Man Jin (born 1964). Son Man Jin’s calligraphy is very different from the cursive style, creating a dynamic dialogue between contemporary and traditional visual presentation.