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A brush with history

By Lin Qi | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-26 08:00

 Chinese calligraphy is the artistic vehicle in which the nation's cultural lineage is carried.

Editor's note: There are 43 items inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage lists that not only bear witness to the past glories of Chinese civilization, but also continue to shine today. China Daily looks at the protection and inheritance of some of these cultural legacies. In this installment, we trace the aesthetic and cultural lines that connect the first Chinese scholars with the brush-wielding enthusiasts and practitioners today.

When Zhuo Heng entered a showroom of the National Art Museum of China one day in late November, she was startled by the bustling scene of visitors viewing the calligraphy scrolls. The exhibition was dedicated to the work of Chen Hailiang, a calligrapher of repute who has gained recognition particularly for writing caoshu, the cursive script that presents the most freedom and boldness in Chinese writing.

An amateur calligraphy practitioner herself, Zhuo says Chen's works caught her deeply at first sight.

"I was awed, not only by his mastery of the art — he is well-versed in all the scripts and in making works of different sizes, varying from those measuring dozens of centimeters to several meters from the floor to ceiling, and he has shown the grandeur of calligraphy," she says.

"But also, how he breaks certain rules to form a distinctive style of his own surprised me a great deal."

Zhuo refers to the many areas in Chen's writing pieces where too much ink is accumulated, and look like big stains. She says it is normally seen as wrong and should be avoided.

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