Friday, August 20, 2010

Ouyang Xun: Commemorative Stone Tablet for the Sweet Spring near the Jiucheng Palace 欧阳询:《九成宫醴泉铭碑》

Ouyang Xun left a number of masterpieces engraved on commemorative stone tablets and those works have remained to be excellent models for practice and emulation over 1,000 years. Their influences on later calligraphers are indisputable. Even the great calligrapher Yan Zhenqing had studied Ouyang's styles diligently before he invented his style which later impacted greatly on Liu Gongquan. Since then, most calligraphy students of regular script (kaishu) would choose either styles of Ouyang, Yan, or Liu.
Commemorative Stone Tablet for the Sweet Spring at the Jiucheng Palace (Jiucheng Gong) is his signature work in regular script. Chen Jiru, a scholar of Ming dynasty once commented, this calligraphic piece is ‘like a mountain recluse who has achieved the ultimate wisdom, gaunt and lean in muscle but robust in spirit.’ Another scholar Zhao Han praised that it is the best calligraphic work in regular script.
The Jiucheng Palace was originally built in the Sui dynasty and Emperor Tang Taizong visited the palace in 632. Taizong is said to have discovered a sweet spring on its ground, which was interpreted as a propitious sign. Consequently, a commemorative stele was erected at the spot. The text was written by senior court officer Wei Zheng and calligraphy by Ouyang Xun.
The calligraphy of Ouyang Xun, a follower of the calligraphic style of Wang Xizhi, has a ‘steeper’ look than that of Wang Xizhi. His regular script style employs brushstrokes that are thicker at the two ends and thinner in the middle, falling in the contractive category. The indrawn strokes in turn produce an indrawn character structure, with outer lines drawn inward, forming arcs, and strokes concentrated as much as possible in the interior, creating a character structure that is compact in the centre and less dense in the periphery. At the same time, some strokes are made longer than normal, transgressing the character grid, in order to avoid giving an overcautious look.
However, some critics commented that the steeper strokes and structures of his calligraphy make it very difficult for most beginners to emulate his style because a slight error or deviation will result in wide divergences in strokes, structures, and the overall look.
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欧阳询留下不少刻在碑石的书法杰作,千多年来它们是法书范本,被无数人临摹。它们对后代书法家的影响是无可置疑的。就算是大书法家颜真卿在未形成自己的书体之前,也是十分认真地学习欧体。而颜体也深深地影响了柳公权。自此之后,书法学习者在学习楷书时,所选的不是欧体,就是颜体,或者柳体。
《九成宫醴泉铭碑》是他的楷书代表作。明陈继儒曾评论说:‘此帖如深山至人,瘦硬清寒,而神气充腴。’明赵涵称此碑为‘正书第一’。
九成宫原来建于隋朝。公元632年唐太宗来巡视该宫。据说太宗在那里发现了醴(甜)泉,认为那是个吉兆。后来,就在那里立了块碑石。碑文由魏征写,书法则由欧阳询来写。
欧阳询学的是王羲之的字体,而他的字形比王羲之险峻。他的楷书笔画两端粗而中间细,属于内擫笔法。笔画向内而产生向内靠的字形,外围笔画向内行走,形成弧形,因此结字中宫紧而外围松驰;有些笔画则故意拉长,超越界线,为的是避免呈现一种太过拘禁的形态。
但是,不少评论家认为他的书法中的险峻笔画与结字,令初学者难以模仿他的字体,因为稍有差错或偏差,就会造成笔画、结字与整体上的大偏离。

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