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Calligrapher enjoys brush with greatness

By LIN QI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-18 15:23

Artistry of Original Strokes showcases calligraphic works by Chen Hailiang. [Photo by Lin Qi/China Daily]

What makes a calligrapher one of the best of all time? The answer can be found in Weidu Fu, a rhyme-prose composed by Zuo Si, a man of letters whose life spanned the third and fourth centuries. He wrote: "Accumulate in the way the clouds gather, and release as smoothly as the rain drops."

The description properly summarizes the way Chen Hailiang presents his calligraphic momentum on paper in a gentle, relaxed manner. It has led to the 55-year-old being considered one of the leading calligraphers of his generation.

Chen has won many accolades, including several Lanting Awards, the highest prize in the field, organized by the China Calligraphers Association.

"Still, I have room to achieve maturity, even at my age," he said at the opening of his one-man exhibition, Artistry of Original Strokes, running at the National Art Museum of China through Tuesday.

On show are more than 90 pieces of work, navigating Chen's various scripts, including those on the oracle bones, recognized as the earliest form of Chinese written characters.

There is prose, self-composed poems and couplets, as well as copies of famed, historical calligraphic masterpieces, for example, the Hanshi Tie written by Su Shi, a great poet and essayist of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

The sizes vary from dozens of centimeters to over 3 meters from ceiling to floor.

It offers a glimpse of Chen's endeavors with different styles of calligraphy and his mastery of the cursive script (caoshu), with its highly expressive semiabstract style.

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