Calligraphy and painting are two highly regarded art forms in Chinese culture. They both represent the imaginative expression of human language in visual form. Chinese calligraphy and painting are created using similar tools and techniques with a long history of shared artistry. The skills used in Chinese calligraphy are inspired by painting—and vice versa.
Ideally, calligraphy expresses the essential elements of aesthetic beauty: balance, proportion, variety, continuity, contrast, movement, change and harmony. These components are incorporated through the varied shapes and forms of the strokes—the flow of their combinations and painted ways of movement.
In Chinese paintings, the subjects are wide-ranging, often depicting landscapes, flowers, birds, figures, and religious themes. Most Chinese painters aim to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but also its inner essence—its energy, life force, and spirit. Styles, techniques, symbolism, past traditions, historical events, and even the artist’s own personal circumstances factor in the artwork creation. It is a complex process that requires dedicated practice and instruction.
At William & Mary, students enrolled in Chinese Calligraphy and Painting gain a greater appreciation for these art forms and learn to create them. Alongside their instructor, Qiong Yang, students share their talents as they learn about Chinese calligraphy and painting. This exhibition showcases more than 40 pieces of student art selected from the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. The pieces are displayed alongside brief introductions to the required instruments and materials. For centuries, calligraphers and painters used these items to create their delicate, detailed pieces. Today, contemporary artists still utilize these tools and techniques in their work.
Images of the exhibit are available from Swem Library on Flickr.
Course Instructor: Qiong Yang, Visiting Professor, W&M Confucius Institute
Exhibit design: Jennie Davy, Exhibits Manager. Fabrication and Installation: Ashley Gonzales, User Services & Student Supervisor; Dana Florczak, Special Collections Student Assistant; Mariaelena DiBenigno, Special Collections Graduate Apprentice and PhD Candidate in American Studies; and Jennie Davy.