Friday, January 21, 2011

Kong Lingguang 孔令广

With more Chinese calligraphers coming to live in Singapore, their contributions to the development of Chinese calligraphy will become more apparent. The story of Kong Lingguang and his wife as reported by Zaobao on 17 Jan 2011 is a case in point. The couple gave up their good careers in fine arts in China; decided instead to come to Singapore to open a noodle stall known as ‘Gongfu Noodle’ in a coffee shop, selling their home town noodle.
Currently, the following Chinese calligraphers are active in Sinagpore: Gu Jianping, Ma Shuanglu, and Su Demao. The presence of Kong Lingguang will further add to the vibrant scene of Chinese calligraphy. It is really a piece of good news.
Kong Lingguang, 44, is now a Singapore citizen. He is a member of the Chinese Calligraphers’ Association, a distinguished member of Henan Provincial Painting & Calligraphy Academy. He has been interested in Chinese poetry and couplets since he was young and has been practising Chinese calligraphy for about 30 years. When he was in China, he conducted calligraphy classes at home after work at the Xuchang Arts and Heritage Department, Henan Province and received reasonable income. His wife worked at the Xuchang City’s Henan Opera Group as a national 2-class opera artiste.
Kong Lingguang says, ‘We were actually living a quite comfortable life in China. However, we heard from our relatives who have visited Singapore that it is an international garden city with a very good living and working environment. The salary here is high and it is an extremely good environment for bringing up children. That has set us thinking.’
Finally, at the end of 2004, Gong Lingguang arrived in Singapore and started a new journey of struggling to make ends meet. After 4 years, he became a Singapore Permanent Resident, and applied for permanent residence in Singapore for his family. Kong said that the biggest problem he faced here is the language barrier, ‘because I do not understand English, it is really inconvenient. However, Singaporeans are very welcoming, and they have helped us a great deal.’
Due to the need to earn a living, his wife decided to get down off her high horse as a national level opera artiste and open a noodle stall. The origin idea of opening the ‘Gongfu Noodle’ was to introduce the authentic Henan food culture to Singapore; and also to add to Singapore’s multicultural flavors. The stall has been opened for about three years. Many immigrants patronize the stall. About 40% of his customers are locals.
Currently, he is a council member of the Xin Sheng Poets Society, a member of the Global Chinese Poetry Society, a professional calligrapher, He also teaches in a number of primary schools. During the last 10 years, he has been promoting and teaching Chinese calligraphy, focusing in teaching the clerical script.
His eldest daughter Kong Yiqiao is very much influenced by the parents has been practising calligraphy and learning Henan opera since she was young. The youngest daughter Kong Yiquan, born in 2004, started to learn when she was 3 years old. For the past two years, Kong Yiquan has been writing calligraphy in front of the stall counter. Customers of the coffee shop would naturally stop and admire the young calligrapher.
Kong Lingguang disclosed that he will hold solo exhibition on calligraphy and poetry at the Black Earth Art Museum in February this year. He also plans to publish two calligraphy books on writing Diamond Sutra and Daode Jing.
In order to look after the family and their own interests, the husband and wife have to take turn to work on the noodle stall. Usually, his wife Qiao Jie takes the morning shift and in the afternoon, as long as there is free with no calligraphy class, Kong Lingguang will take over to run the stall.
Whenever he can find free times in between, Kong will also write on the spot in front of the stall, which has become an attractive scene in the coffee shop.

Click here to view Kong Lingguang's Website.


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