Handwriting and Expression
Preface of International Contemporary Art Invitation Exhibition
In different periods, the possible and impossible coexist in art, which constitutes the art history. Such connotation comes from a belief summarized by Heinrich W?lfflin.
In the contemporary era and in the future, artists may face a more complex and magic environment. In front of some alerts on and facts about something that cannot be achieved, and under the pressure from existing overall art, including the art of all nations and art of the world, former art and art in progress, and pressure from accomplished new and old masters of art, why some achievements can still be made? Because we are in a good time node and spatial location, we have abundant material resources and information, and complex mental experience in a world featuring constant changes in which everything withers and flourishes. All of these constitute our “advantages” in engagement in contemporary art as these are not available to predecessors. Therefore, we firmly believe that there is no end to art, and art is always on the way.
When we are willing to believe that true artists are those people featuring poetic quality and brave enough to steal fire like Prometheus, the new page on the art history will not be stale and boring. In an era of capital and material, it’s possible to be antagonistic to mediocrity and construct another wonderful and mythical house, which is called by Plato as “an artificial dream created for sobers”. Please embrace the secret encouragement, as we see the brightness that may be brought by art among disasters of the world and enjoy the happiness brought by artistic creation.
In previous description of the art history which has enough right of speech, China and western countries have their respective achievements and glories. Comparing the artistic pattern generated from link-to-link logic chains of the western art history and the subtle evolution forms revealed from the closed loop of sequence of thoughts of traditional Chinese art history, the description of the two systems represents the difference between the western logic and oriental metaphysics. Due to the obviously different art forms, the dialogue seems still tortuous and difficult, although the Chinese art has closely and luckily contacted with the western art in the past forty years. When we set previous art forms as the past and only look at the original expression of the art language, it’s easy for us to find that “handwriting” can be deemed as the starting point of humanity’s artistic behaviors and a common approach which lasts even to now. From copy of scriptures and documents to aesthetic handwriting, human beings deliver their feelings to each other in the long handwriting journey.
It’s obvious that handwriting is an approach of visual communication. Symbols, words, chapters and coat of arms are generated by handwriting, and aesthetic handwriting gradually came into being in the process of practical handwriting by humanity. For example, due to requirements on speed, handwriting shows a smooth and beautiful orientation. The perception of beauty, after being pushed to the extreme, contributed to non-utilitarian art. For instance, Kuangcao, an excessively free cursive style (in Chinese calligraphy) already puts artistic expression in the first place, and the recognition of practical font outline is minimized. When art gradually gets rid of the dependence on various practical and functional work, and gets a self-conscious and independent ecological identity, the artists will obtain holographic perception from the environment of the era to which they belong. Different ethnic groups form intuition and judgment on the events that occur in the environment of the era to which they belong based on their cultural roots and the philosophy of life, while art creation is essentially the artists’ differential perception and projection of the world based on this basic philosophy. The difference between Chinese and western handwriting art can be seen from that Chinese handwriting has an impressionistic style and western handwriting prioritizes expressionism. However, it does not prevent handwriting art from being a common way for expression of the mind. And in the contemporary era, impressionism and expressionism coupled with each other and handwriting becomes a way of expression which satisfies both the visual needs and mental needs. After western art met modernism, the convergence of handwriting art was witnessed from the works of expressionist artists, such as Henri Michaux, Mark Tobey, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Antoni Tàpies and other Western artists. In a similar sense, from the works in Kuangcao, an excessively free cursive style (in Chinese calligraphy), of artists such as Wei XU and Fushan in the Ming Dynasty, we can see that expressionism was leveraged to an extreme extent based on expressionism.
Nowadays, with a wide variety of and easy access to information in the network era, we have much more information on art than predecessors. The latest archaeological discoveries, the cosmic mysteries revealed by scientific exploration, the environmental and climate change of the earth, and the crises of and between countries, etc. all expand the mental space of human beings at the cognitive level, and constantly generated new mental images are enough to grow into a space for expression of handwriting art. As the technological productivity of human beings creates a beautiful house for mankind from the practical perspective, the mission of art is to create another magical house to present the mental history of human history. Therefore, to re-mention the proposition of handwriting art is to stand on the opposite side of materialization, and art performs this non-utilitarian task. So for artists, the purpose of handwriting is no longer to repeat the path of functional handwriting, but to examine and judge. From the initial hieroglyphs to the completely materialized print form, from the earliest record with text graphics on divination books and silk books to the computerized symbol images, the appearance of words and symbols have changed, and handwriting will have a new expression. Different artists adopt quite different ways of expression, but the handwriting that gets rid of the practicality will always be connected to the heart, presenting the things perceived through mind by the individuals in their era. The string of artistic mental ideas converges into a spiritual story of the era.
This exhibition tries to review and explore the miraculous effectiveness of the handwriting art, in response to the artistic goal argued by E.H. Gombrich: “Once again, I am amazed that human beings can present the mysterious illusions of the visual reality that we call ‘pictures’ with shapes, lines, shadows, and colors.” The charm and expressiveness contained in handwriting are far-reaching, as it has not only paid tribute to the source of characters, but also participated in contemporary artistic creation, from which it can certainly obtain richer expressiveness and lasting vitality.
On March 2, 2022 in Guangzhou