BRUSH & INK
Derived from the Greek words for "beauty" and "writing", calligraphy is a very old art. Usually the necessary tools for writing calligraphy are paper, quill and ink. Chinese Calligraphy is based on Chinese characters that are handwritten on paper as well as bones and plates of clay or stone using a brush or a knife (seal carving).
In the broader sense calligraphy is a play of brush strokes both, in the East and the West. The play of contrasts, curves, shapes and structure inspires rhythm and harmony in the eye of the beholder. Fantasy creates various ideas about what is perceived. Even if you do not know the language, you nevertheless experience a pleasant and enjoyable sentiment.
Western Calligraphy quite often is influenced by practicalities that at the same time pose limitations. Such calligraphy is very "clear" and "fine", but at the same time that is all it is. You always are able to make small corrections and can even use a ruler to create perfect writing. Hence it is much easier to have it written with a computer.
In China calligraphy is mainly considered as a kind of mental kung fu. It is an art that shapes your personality. Besides the apparent and visible beauty Chinese Calligraphy is a true reflection of the heart.
"An elemental flow where single brush strokes disappear and become part of a unique entity". Chinese Calligraphy is written with one singular stroke of the brush. It is not embellished unnecessarily as this would disrupt the energy of the writing. On the highest level Chinese Calligraphy is written subconsciously and spontaneously. To achieve this you not only need intensive writing training but moreover a profound understanding of Chinese philosophy and esthetics which you have to be able to transform into a personal interpretation of yours.
The theory of Chinese Calligraphy says: "The upright brush needs a pure and sincere mind."
Exactly with this in mind the Chinese write calligraphy for more than thousand years with just a brush and no other auxiliary means. This shows a close connection between the strokes of the brush and ethics, between philosophy and esthetics.
Sometimes it is not quite clear why you are drawn to Chinese Calligraphy. Is it just the art or is it what is behind it perhaps – the Chinese philosophy and culture.
These characteristics of Chinese Calligraphy strongly determine its future. It is not just dominated by the artists only and will not just linger in museums or libraries. It is always alive with those people interested in Chinese culture and will always be part of education in China.
Chinese Calligraphy will live on through those little hands of the children who just began to write their first Chinese characters.
To "see" or to "perceive"?
At a time when Picasso seduced with geometrical shapes and Monet allured with reflections of light and shadow, why did the Chinese just use black and white and simple stokes of the brush to express a complex inner world?
While artists in Europe emphasized "seeing", in China focus was on "perceiving".
Besides the different cultural and philosophical background the main difference here is the mindset.
For the Chinese the art of calligraphy is a way to work on and improve your own attitude towards life. A calligraphy’s value does not depend on whether you use a new technique or some new materials, but only on whether you are able to work with and to work on your inner world and whether you are able to inspire the work of art with it. Since its beginning Chinese calligraphy tends towards candid intimacy more than to cursory, frolic viewers.
Hence we write Chinese calligraphy not only to please just the eye. For the artist it is about expressing feelings, for the viewer it is about perceiving these emotions.
Just presenting the old in new forms only reveals the heart’s insecurity and poverty.
We should not only try to satisfy the eye but also the inner world. This shows true respect for other people.