Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wong Joon Tai on Chinese Calligraphy 王运开的书法之路

Wong Joon Tai (Wang Yunkai), who calls himself a simple-living person, claims to have understood the meaning of life at the age of forty and started fulfilling that meaning by learning Chinese calligraphy at fifty. Confucius once said, ‘At forty, I had no doubts and at fifty, I knew the mandate of Heaven.’ That is to say meaningful life only starts at fifty when one knows the mandate of heaven and acts on it.
In 2003, Wong learned Chinese calligraphy under Lee Kim Guan (Li Jinyuan), practised lishu ‘Caoquan Bei’ (Epitaph on the tombstone of Cao Quan, Han Dynasty) for three years, also practiced briefly the ‘Maogong Ding’ (Incense Burner), scripts on bamboo of Han, and ‘Shimen Song’ (an Ode Inscribed on the Stone Gate). Happened to pass by the Singapore Calligraphy Centre one day in 2004 and enrolled into calligraphy class conducted by Professor Tan Siah Kwee (Chen Shenggui). He then practised the walking style (xingshu) ‘Shenjiao Xu’ (The Preface to the Sacred Teaching) for five years and Zhao’s walking style xingshi for one year.
In 2007, he was influenced by Han Yutao’s theory that Chinese calligraphy is philosophical in nature and is about expression of feelings. This had led him to study on his own the Western and Chinese philosophies, aesthetics. He then created three blogs to keep notes of his study: Follow the Desires of My Mind, Chinese Calligraphy and The Chinese Lifeworld.
The experts seem to advocate that the only way to realise Chinese calligraphy as an art of expression is to work on cursive style of writing (caoshu). Therefore, he probably will spend the next three years on Caoshu. By that time he will be sixty years old, and if anyone criticises that he is crazy, he should be able to accept that criticism with a calm mind.
The copying work shown here is his practice on Wang Xizhi’s ‘Shiqi Tie’ (The collections of some of Wang Xizhi's letters).
Confucius once remarked, after he had begun the study of the Yijing (Book of Changes) at fifty, ‘If I could hope to live some years more, long enough to complete my study of the Yijing, I should then hope to be without any great shortcomings in my life.’
In his case, since he started learning Chinese calligraphy at fifty, he would say, ‘If I could hope to live some years more, long enough to complete my study of Chinese calligraphy, I should then hope to be without any great shortcomings in my life.’
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王运开,自号‘简易居士’。自认于不惑之年肯定了人生意义,知命之年开始行动而学书法。子曰:‘四十而不惑,五十而知天命。’就是说有意义的人生是在五十岁知道天命之后,并有了行动才开始的。
2003年跟李金源老师学书法,临了三年《曹全碑》,亦临过《毛公鼎》,汉简,《石门颂》。2004年无意中来到了新加坡书法中心,报名进入陈声桂教授的书法班,从此临了五年的《圣教序》与一年赵体行书。
2007年受到了韩玉涛书论的影响,说书法是哲学的,又是写意的。于是自修中西哲学,美学,并创立三个博客来作读书笔记:随意运开中国书法华人的生活世界
看来书法专家多认为书法写意唯有草书。所以他大概会在以后三年苦练草书。那时已是耳顺之年,如果别人说他狂,应能以平静之心来看待了。
这里所展示的是他临王羲之《十七帖》的习作。
子曰:‘加我数年,五十以学易,可以无大过矣。’
吾曰:‘加我数年,五十以学书,可以无大过矣。’

3 comments:

  1. Someone asked, what have Chinese and Western philosophies got to do with Chinese calligraphy? Xiong Bingming once said, 'The core of Chinese culture is its philosophy, and at the centre of Chinese philosophy is Chinese calligraphy.' Wang Guowei thought that Aesthetic vision (意境) is at the highest horizon of human true emotion. Nietzsche said God is dead, and most likely candicate to replace God is Aesthetic. However, Chinese philosophy is said to be inclined towards practical reasoning, as compared to Western's pure reasoning. Kant used Aesthetic to build a bridge between Pure and Practical reasons. That means we need both Chinese and Westen philosophies to better understand aesthetics and thus Chinese Calligraphy.

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  2. "That means we need both Chinese and Westen philosophies to better understand aesthetics and thus Chinese Calligraphy". If what you said is true, I wonder how could the masters of chinese Calligraphy in ancient China produce so many master pieces without exposure to western philosophies.

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  3. True, the Calligrapher sage Wang Xizhi probably did not have any idea that there was a world outside China, let allow Western philosophy. That did not prevent him from becoming a sage of calligraphy.
    But here we are talking about aesthetics and Chinese calligraphy as being philosophical and try to relate them to a meaningful life vision. If that is the case, then I think we can not run away from a good knowledge of philosophy. In this sense, in addition to Chinese philosophy, a good knowledge of Western philosophy will allow us to understand the issue from quite a different angle, which is important, given the fact that our life today is so much influenced by the West.
    Even we limit our discussion to writing Chinese calligraphy only, I think knowing both Chinese and Western philosophies will expidete the learning process.

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