Friday, May 6, 2011
Lin Sanzhi 林散之
Lin Sanzhi (1898 – 1989), a native of Anhui province, was born in Jiangpu of Jiangsu Province. His name was originally Yilin, but later changed to Sanzhi. He became a famous calligrapher very late in life, but his calligraphic works gained attention and growing reputation as time passed.
Lin had always loved drawing since he was young. His father passed away when he was 14 years old. At 13, he was introduced to learn ‘realistic brushwork figure painting’ from Zhang Qingpu in Nanjing, which provided him a very strong foundation in basic brushwork techniques. At 16, he learned Chinese calligraphy from his townsman Fan Peikai. Fan taught him the An Wu’s brushwork techniques of ‘double hook with suspended wrist’ and ‘perpendicular brush with centred-tip’, thus laid a strong foundation in calligraphy. 30 years later, Zhang Li-an, a scholar from Han San, introduced him to Huang Binhong in Shanghai, and from Huang, he fully mastered the secret of Hang’s famous ‘five writing and seven ink’ method of using brsuh. In 1933, taking instruction from Huang that one must travel ten thoudand miles while reading ten thoudsand books, he started his travel of ten-thousand miles, and the travel had influenced greatly his life.
Later, Lin recounted his learning journey last: ‘I began to learn Tang Dynasty stone tablet calligraphy when I was 16, and 30 years later, I learned the running script of Mi Fu. At the age of 60, I started to learn the cursive script. My cursive script was based on that of Wang Xizhi, and practiced on Monk Huai Su’s model works. I treated Wang Duo as my friend, Dong Qichang and Zhu Xizhe as my guests. My first teacher was Mr Fan. Later, Mr Zhang and Mr Huang perfected my skills. This is roughtly my learning journey of 80 years.’
Lin created his own cursive calligraphy writing style, paying great attention to brushstroke techniques. He preferred to use a writing brush made of goat's hair and his strokes were thin and of great strength, absorbing and capturing the essence of many ancient Chinese calligraphers. Lin used varied brushstrokes in calligraphic creation. Sometimes he wrote slowly and the strokes had a quiet and dignified beauty. At other times, he would write in a big rush and the strokes became straight and forceful. The varied brushstroke techniques in his works enabled him to form a magnificent and bold calligraphy style, which was of a great artistic appeal.
For his achievement, his was known as the sage of calligraphy of cursive writing.