Saturday, October 19, 2013

草圣张旭 Zhang Xu: The Sage of Calligraphy of Cursive Script

The development of calligraphy of Cursive Script had reached a new height during the Tang dynasty, and it is not surprising that it produced Three Outstanding Calligraphers for Cursive Script. He Zhizhang is one of them. The other two are ZhangXu and Huai Su.

He Zhizhang:
Huai Su:
Zhang Xu, also named Bogao, was a native of Suzhou. He became an official during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. He had the official title of Administrative Adjutant and was known as Administrative Adjutant Zhang.
Zhang was known as one of the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup. Legend has it that whenever he was drunk, he would use his hair as brush to perform his art of Chinese calligraphy, and upon his waking up, he would be amazed by the quality of those works but failed to produce them again.
Though well known for his cursive script, he also excelled in the regular script. According to Zhang Xu himself, he picked up cursive script writing from watching the sword dance performed by Gongsun Danian, a top dancer of the time. In a departure from the tradition of discrete characters found in the cursive style of Wang Xizhi and Sun Guoting, Zhang Xu adopted the crazy cursive script style of writing the characters in a continuum, broadening the horizon of calligraphic expression. For this, he was known as the Sage of Calligraphy of Cursive Script (草圣).
Han Yu, a prominent poet of Tang Dynasty noted that “Zhang Xu is dedicated to Cao Shu and has lifted it up to a level so dazzling that you can hardly imagine.” Du Fu, another great poet of Tang Dynasty even dedicated a poem to Zhang Xu part of which states: “Three cups of alcohol rouse Zhang Xu’s ingenuity which will make him take off his hat and wield his brush before people of high ranks, and brilliant masterpieces come into shape”. Zhang was good at expressing his thoughts and feelings with abstract lines in a way never seen before. It could be stated that even though he uses the traditional techniques he manages to attribute uniqueness, creativity, diversity, freshness and daring to his works thus being head and shoulders above his predecessors and becoming an artistic symbol of the prosperity of Tang Dynasty.
Apart from the Regular Script “Note of Stele in Langguan”, his other two most famous works which are still cherished today are “The Stomachache Note” (Du Tong Tie), Four Ancient Chinese Poems (Gu Shi Si Tie).









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