The Only Fair Judge Gives Way to Time to Prove:Interview with Stephan Siquan Yin

4 years ago

Stephan Siquan Yin, also known as Xiyi Wind, Mr. Swings, was born in Anhui, China in 1963. He is a Chinese Canadian, residing in Toronto. Mr. Yin is a Poet, Calligrapher, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Scholar and Educator. He has been member of council of North America Contemporary Arts & Calligraphy Association, Chairman of Zhonghong Academy of North America, Vice President of Hanmo International Federation, and Artist of The Three Doves.
He was the award winner of The China’s First National Youth Calligraphy Competition in 1984, joined “Anhui Provincial University Calligraphy Exhibition” in 1985, and winner of "Civilization Cup of National Penmanship Contest” in 1987. Afterwards Yin’s works have participated in a number of art exhibitions, and attracted the attention of many collectors. In 1992, He was invited to exhibit his artworks in “Huafeng Calligraphy Exhibition to Japan” . In 1993, winner of "Golden Goose Award". He was invited to participate in the Canadian International Calligraphy Exhibition, Japan Calligraphy Exhibition, Toronto City Center special performances and other multi-cultural activities. At the same time, his work made great achievements. His publish includes the book "Siquan Poetry and Calligraphy” by Beijing International Culture Press 2006. His poetry collections include “Leisure Time Songs", "Outskirts of Scholar's Poetry", “Pine Valley Poems”, his seal cutting collection was named “Bugu Seal Collection" and others. Some of these works were collected by art museums and universities in Hongkong, Japan, Korea, and the United States.

OGP:The history of Chinese calligraphy was as long as the country of China itself. It was the visual art highest form prized above all others in traditional China. Calligraphy has been considered the ultimate art form by the Chinese educated elite since at least the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). In later dynasties, candidates at the civil service examinations were graded on their calligraphic skills as well as their responses to the questions. A calligrapher was expected to demonstrate the strength of personality with the use of brush and ink. While calligraphy involves the Confucian emphasis on the social, this cannot be separated from a more Daoist emphasis on the workings of nature. Indeed, the emperors of China asserted their authority for posterity as well as for the present by engraving their own pronouncements on mountain sides and on stone steles erected at outdoor sites. So calligraphy came to assume the dominant positions in government, society, and culture. Let us discuss about calligraphy with Mr. Yin, who is a well known calligrapher and knowledgeable scholar. Could you tell us a about your artistic background?

Mr. Yin:Certainly my pleasure! My name is Siquan Yin, also known as Mr. Swings. Born in 1963, I started to learn about writing Chinese characters using ink brush at the age of 7,  for daily routine practice tutored by my father. I firstly imitated a script in Li (Clerical) style named “Caoquan Bei (stele)”. Living condition at that time was very poor, unable to get official calligraphy paper, nor regular printing paper, we cut card boards into book sized pamphlets and drew on them. I remember playing brush with ink for drawing was the happiest thing to do in my childhood. My inspiration came from my father who was talented in handwriting and verbal communication,  he is the one who lighten up the enthusiasm. At age 11, I shifted to practice the Official Kai (standard) style, particularly Liu Gongquan’s “The Secret Tower” in Tang Dynasty. I dedicated to this style all the way from middle school to university at age 20. Studies in universities made a turning point in my life and career, where I opened views by seeing more historical masterpiece prints which I had no chance to get access before, and I learned from a number of instructors and masters at provincial and national levels. In 1984, I attended the first national youth calligraphy competition in Xing (Semi-cursive ) style and won the 3rd place award, that was the greatest encouragement for a university student pursuing the art of calligraphy. After that I was acting president of the university’s penmanship organization, inviting renowned artists for lectures, and visiting their studios for further studies. Ambitiously, I prepared to take post graduate entrance examination in Tianjin University in the courses of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Theories. In 1989 I graduated with the achievement of Master’s degree in Arts. I joined provincial and national calligraphy associations while studying and working in mainland of China. Comparatively, this was the most active period for attending nationwide contests and got rewarded, interacting with local artists and galleries. I entered some calligraphy contests, awarded top prizes and certificates of collections and exhibitions in China, Japan and Korea. However, it looks like clouds when you recall the past, I mean it is hard to put all together in an interview. When internet came into being since mid 90’s, I started my personal blogs listing artworks and poetry. Meanwhile by exhibiting on professional websites, I drew back the attention of my peers, and gained enthusiastic recognition from global readers and fans. In 2005, China’s Calligraphy Guide introduced my works in the title of “Skilled Artist”, in 2006, critics composed articles in newspaper columns recommending my poems and handwriting, name my creation as “Dual Crowns”. In the same year, my first book “Siquan Poetry and Calligraphy” was published by Beijing International Cultural Press. In 2007, I formed “Zhonghong Academy of North America” in Toronto, educating and spreading Chinese quintessences, which is active up to date. Each year I was invited to travel in mainland of China to get together with calligraphy meetings and  seminars. This is very useful to know more artists and exchange artworks and views.

OGP:  Chinese calligraphy is based on writing of Chinese characters, which are pictography, and very meaningful. It also is a combination of the language and art, very unique. Rhythm, line, and structure are more perfectly embodied in calligraphy than in painting or sculpture. Chinese calligraphy is an Oriental tradition rooted in centuries of practice. It is an art of turning square Chinese characters into expressive images by varying the speed and pressure of a pointed Chinese brush. By controlling the concentration of ink, the thickness and absorptivity of the paper, and the flexibility of the brush, the artist is free to produce an infinite variety of styles and forms. In contrast to western calligraphy, diffusing ink blots and dry brush strokes are viewed as a natural expression rather than a fault. While western calligraphy often pursues font-like uniformity, Chinese calligraphy emphasizes more on expressing one’s emotions.

Mr. Yin:True. To the artist, calligraphy is a mental exercise that coordinates the mind and the body to choose the best styling in presenting the content of the passage. It is the most relaxing yet highly disciplined exercise indeed for one's physical and spiritual well being. Our mind becomes tranquil when we learn Calligraphy. This is what we call fearless and worry free. Calligraphy extends to more than just writing Chinese characters, it is a way of life: Create an impact on the world with every stroke you make by lifting, pressing, drawing and turning of the brush tip and edges. Built on the basis of traditional techniques, nourished by classic Chinese Literature, I have established a solid foundation with a combination of principles and cultivation. My current style appears to be elegant and reserved, or ancient and vigorous, which is endeavoured to be with abundant implications. Art has no limitation of course,  more potentiality remains to develop while life goes on. Maturity meets consistent studies and practicing. Chinese Calligraphy is among top classics with rich historical collections, one with vision and wisdom can barely self-claim to be the best or mature while he or she is still in the process. The only fair judge gives way to time to prove.

OGP:Chinese characters are dynamic, closely bound to the forces of nature and the kinesthetic energies of the human body. But these energies are contained within a balanced framework —— supported by a strong skeletal structure —— whose equilibrium suggests moral rectitude, indeed, that of the writer himself. To do calligraphy well, we have to take that energy in to be perfect. Because the tip of the brush is so soft we cannot force it to do anything. We can only guide it. Especially like handwriting, every work is unique. Once you look at someone's handwriting, you will develop an impression of the character and personality.

Mr. Yin:Correct ideas! Handwriting resembles a person’s image. My artworks reveals my personality and characteristics, telling true state of mind and emotion of myself. This is impossible to achieve when people just borrow poems or slogans to write without giving their own thinking. However most existing calligraphers are transcribing pieces of poetry from Tang Song Dynasties, everyone tends to write in similarities with the same content, in my opinion, this is just craftsmanship using techniques as a technician but arts. I have been instinctively composing poems since I was young in middle school. After a poem is completed, I simultaneously put it into calligraphy creation. By “instinctively”, I mean poetry has become part of my life, overflowing in blood veins and inner thoughts, forcing me to react by ink and brushes from the bottom of my soul. Therefore, to find out the spirit in my calligraphy, please comprehend my poem which is simple and honest, no obscure wordings nor artificial quotations. I used to say that "others' poems are like their outfits which may not suit you well either by shape or by quality”. You have your own thoughts to spell out and handwrite it. This is the essence of arts, which is true and free from your own mind. Thus I may say my style is: Nature enriched form with revealing content following traditional skills together with the unique feelings. These components are united in one place, corresponding to the old theory of “Writing with a reason”.

OGP:Fusing poetry, literature and calligraphy into one art form, because good calligraphy possesses rhythm, emotion, aesthetic, spirituality and, perhaps most importantly, the character of the calligrapher. “Calligraphy is like images without form, music without sound.” Calligraphy and painting were seen as scholarly pursuits of the educated classes, and in most cases the great masters of Chinese art distinguished themselves first as government officials, scholars and poets and were usually skilled calligraphers. Sculpture, which involved physical labor and was not a task performed by gentlemen, never was considered a fine art in China. The brush becomes an extension of the writer’s arm, indeed, his entire body. But the physical gestures produced by the wielding of the brush reveal much more than physical motion; they reveal much of the writer himself —— his impulsiveness, restraint, elegance, rebelliousness. A counterbalance of order and dynamism is manifested in all aspects of Chinese writing. In traditional Chinese texts, words are arranged in vertical columns that are read from right to left. Traditional texts have no punctuation; nor are proper nouns visually distinguishable from other words.

Mr. Yin:Absolutely. The orderly arrangement of characters is inherent in each individual character as well. The calligrapher ensures that each character will be written with a sense of balance and proportion, and that one is able to write with an uninterrupted flow like water in a creek and rhythm as clouds stretching in the sky. They have to consider the relationship between words and lines. Our ancestors discovered the similarity to a number of natural coincidences, such as yield through a tight footpath, a lady dancing with sword, a disturbed snake dashing into bushes, monkeys hanging branches for water, an old man walking with grandson etc, these are all symbolic comparisons and require the artist to well observe and penetrate. There are a number of historical artists who influenced me from time to time such as, Zhong Yao (1*) (DongHan Dynasty) for his Fine Kai style; Zhang Zhi (2*) (Han Danasty) for his Zhang Cao Style (Clerical Cursive); Wang Xizhi (3*) and his son Wang Xianzhi (4*) (DongJin Dynasty) for their semi-cursive and cursive styles;  Huang Xiang (5*) (SanGuo Era), Suo Jing (6*) (WestJin Dynasty) for Zhang Cao (Clerical cursive); Liu Gongquan (7*), Yan Zhenqing (8*), Ouyang Xun (9*) (Tang Dynasty) for their Grand Kai styles;  Li Beihan and his semi-Kai style, Monk Huai Su (10*) and Zhang Xu (11*) (Tang Dynasty) for their wild cursive style; Mi Fu (12*), Su Shi (13*), Huang Tinjian (14*) (Song Dynasty) for their semi-cursives; Dong Qichang (15*), Xu Wei (16*) (Ming Dynasty) and their semi-cursives; Fu Shan(17*), Wang Duo (18*) (Qing Dynasties) for their cursives; and Lin Sanzhi (19*) (Contemporary) for his cursive style. Apart from above, I followed multiple modern time artists like Wu Changshuo (20*), Qi Baishi (21*), Huang Binhong (22*) who possess significant characteristics. To conclude, I learned from hundreds of prominent masters and combined their skills and knowledges to my own benefit.

OGP:Chinese calligraphy are the oldest continuous art traditions in the world. It was preserved by scholars and nobles and adapted by each successive dynasty. The calligrapher of each dynasty can be distinguished by its unique characteristics and developments. As Suo Jing, ’Suo’s calligraphy available today include ‘Chushi Song’ (Eulogy of Launching the Campaign) was collected by Wang Shimao of Song dynasty. During Qing dynasty, it was firstly collected by An Yizhou and later became part of the collection of the Qing Court. On 9 November 1922, Fu Yi brought it out of Qing Court, on the pretext that it was to be given to Fu Jie. Since 1945, it disappeared among the people and in 2003, it miraculously re-appeared. In Jul 2003, the China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd announced its plan to auction it, claiming that it was the only authentic work of Suo Jing and classified it as ‘the oldest Chinese calligraphic work available’, ‘amazing re-appearance of calligraphic masterpiece of Western Jin’ and ‘currently the only discovered authentic work of Suo Jing’. On 10 July 2003, the Palace Museum in Beijing shocked the world by buying the ancient calligraphy work for 22 million Chinese yuan. Huang Tingjian 's wild cursive script was derived from the 8th-century Tang-dynasty priest Huai Su. Huang Tingjian’s unconventional approach to poetry was influential, rather than adopting the flowery, clever, and extravagant style typical of the late Tang and early Song period, Huang Tingjian advocated an introspective, carefully constructed poetry that rejected established patterns. His "Di Zhu Ming" was purchased at 436.8 million RMB in 2010, bettering a record in the first world record of Chinese works of art in auction. Therefore we can conclude that China’s robust economy is the powerhouse for Chinese works of art market. When a painting did not fully convey the artist feelings, the artist sometimes turned to calligraphy to convey his feelings more deeply. How have your artworks "evolved" throughout your career?

Mr. Yin:After mastering the knowledge of all five main styles of “Zhuan, Li, Xing, Cao, Kai”, which are equivalent to Seal script (Small seal), Clerical script (Official script), Semi-cursive script (Running script), Cursive script (Sloppy script), Regular script (Standard script), I decided to pick cursive styles as my main themes of creation. Cursive styles such as Xingshu (semi-cursive or running script) and Caoshu (cursive or sloppy script) are less constrained, which suit my personality, and the strokes are faster where more movements made by the writing implement are visible. These styles' stroke orders vary more, sometimes creating radically different forms. They are descended from Clerical script, in the same time as Regular script (Han Dynasty). Cursive style was highly appreciated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (140 BC-87BC), and remains popular in the long history until today. Talking about “Evolution”, arts are somehow like crops and fruits, aroused from roots to buds to blossom flowers, resulting in possible utmost maturity. Evolution is a natural process as long as you stay connected and cultivated. We believe specifically in Chinese calligraphy, "the older your age, the better your chance of arts”. Difference is inevitable between present artworks and those of years ago or even days ago. It’s hard for an artist to satisfy itself by self-inspection, because day after day, you read more, travel wider and farther, get in touch with different people, deal with multiple things, these experiences compose trainings beyond desks. The difference he or she sees from frequently is actually progress in process, flourishing and thriving to be true, good and beautiful.

OGP:There are many variations in between these five main styles. Among the five scripts of art of writing, cursive script (caoshu) is the most expressive art and reached a peak in its development during the Ming-Qing period. Increasingly cursive forms of writing, known as “running” script and “cursive” script, both as a natural evolution and a response to the aesthetic potential of brush and ink. In these scripts, individual characters are written in abbreviated form. At their most cursive, two or more characters may be linked together, written in a single flourish of the brush. Characters in "standard" script (kai) have a rectangular form, and are governed by very strict rules of writing. In this elegant form of writing, each brushstroke is clearly articulated through a complex series of brush movements. These kinaesthetic brushstrokes are then integrated into a dynamically balanced, self-contained whole. These classifications are also recognized in Japan and Korea because they were dominated by the Chinese culture in ancient times. Japan still uses many Chinese characters in their present day language called Kanji. Most Chinese calligraphy is in Traditional writing as opposed to Simplified, which was only introduced in 1952. Daoism and Buddhism powerfully influenced the subject matter and style of Chinese calligraphy. What would you say is your greatest achievement as an calligrapher?

Mr. Yin:Achievements can be in two aspects: educating and composing. As a calligrapher, I have been sophisticated in all five main categories of Chinese traditional calligraphy. Persistently for over 40 years, I have remained in the field studying a majority of artworks from notable ancient calligraphers together with their theories, including ink scripts and stele prints. Art has no boundary. Like music, calligraphy also requires passion and faith. To be an artist, one must be sensitive and reactive to all surroundings. Anything you experience, observe, read and feel including natural sceneries, human relations, even a shine day or a depressing weather, no matter sad or joy, you can’t help to express in a touching way. It’s my nature to respond in poems and brushes, generating massive artworks out of passion. Along the journey I have been holding the ambition that the creation can stand out in time and be honoured in history, not only receiving temporary fame. Art is spiritual culture which leaves heavy impact to human civilization, only those time-proven master pieces can be valued. Such dream has been the ongoing motivation, as a poet and calligrapher I hope I can contribute down the generations.

OGP:This is the hope all of us —— to be proactive in passing on historical and cultural heritage, and to preserve valuable legacy for our successors. Some people asked us do you think Western audiences can understand Chinese calligraphy well? What about cursive script calligraphy, in particular? Because from their inception there has been a link between Chinese writing and art that does not have a counterpart in the West. We told them that there are many collectors who have great collections of Chinese calligraphy even though they do not know Chinese. Such as John M. Crawford Jr. (23*), a prominent collector of Oriental art. His collection as the largest and finest private assemblage of Chinese painting and calligraphy in the West. Robert H. Ellsworth (24*) was American art dealer of Asian paintings and furniture from the Ming dynasty. His art collection can be found in museums in the United States. He also donated 500 paintings to the Met in 1986. And the famous contemporary Minimalist artist, Brice Mardon (25*), cannot read Chinese at all, but he has a good eye for calligraphic line. This has led him to collect a great work of cursive script by Wang Duo. They are good examples.

Mr. Yin:Traditional Asian arts related to the ancient literati involve in a few areas such as" zither, chess, calligraphy and painting", later on they were diversified as “poetry, calligraphy, painting and seal carving". Of which, poetry and calligraphy are the blood and driving force. These artistic skills and demonstrations from the old time to date have been the core of Chinese civilization and oriental culture. The type of expression has been widely practiced in China and has been generally held in high esteem in the Chinese cultural sphere (including, historically, for example, Japan, Korea and Vietnam). People who created such fine arts came from all classes, i.e. high rank officials, scholars, intellectuals as well as religious monks and ordinary folks. It looks to be individualized entertainments, yet the spirit of elegancy has been inspiring a whole society or a nation one after another. Distinguishing features of Chinese painting and calligraphy include an emphasis on motion charged with dynamic life, as you mentioned they are dance without form, and music without sound.

OGP:Most of works by famous calligraphers displayed in museums come from the eastern Chin dynasty, Tang, Sung, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. In imperial times, painting and calligraphy were the most highly appreciated arts in court circles and were produced almost exclusively by amateurs aristocrats and scholar-officials who alone had the leisure to perfect the technique and sensibility necessary for great brushwork. Traditional writings about calligraphy suggest that written words play multiple roles: not only does a character denote specific meanings, but its very form should reveal itself to be a moral exemplar, as well as a manifestation of the energy of the human body and the vitality of nature itself.

Mr. Yin:A “Good” piece of calligraphy or water ink painting is comprised of at least three major elements: personal style, profound implication, and professional skill. First it should carry an aesthetically pleasing style which characterizes the artist, charming but different; next it should be inspiring by its implications which arouse audience to react and to appreciate repetitively back and forth. Finally but not the last, it should contain fundamental stroke techniques showing traditional trainings, as we say "no rules no games”. These organic skills reflect artists’ accumulative knowledge and self-cultivation in a long run.

OGP:From an early age Chinese children are taught —— calligraphy and beautiful handwriting are reflections of their character and personality. Rendered in quick fluid strokes calligraphy is more concerned with flow and feeling than skill and precision and is supposed to come straight from the heart. Skills is also very important. The use of brush and ink has much to do with it. The calligrapher can control the thickness of the ink by varying both the amount of water and the solid ink that is ground. And depending on the speed with which one wields the brush and the amount of pressure exerted on the writing surface, calligrapher can create a great variety of effects: rapid strokes bring a leaping dragon to life. Now we have to ask frequently asked questions —— What do you have any plans for the future, and do you hope to achieve in the field in the future? Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Every French soldier carries a marshal's baton in his knapsack.” Anyone collectors like one who is talented and adhere to do the best.

Mr. Yin:As an artist I am still young and energetic full of confidence to improve and develop on the way. It is very delightful I can detect the improvements by self-checking in process towards maturity, specifically by reading a large variety of books in arts, literature and philosophy. With teaching, learning and creating at same time I hope to work out more “Good Pieces”, and influence more audiences. This mission has been religiously carried on and become daily efforts in life. Future plans will include exhibitions in certain places at suitable time, and organize publish of second and third book of poetic calligraphy.

OGP:This is really a good news. “Elegant Rocks and Sparse Trees” by Zhao Mengfu wrote: “Do the rocks in flying-white, the trees in ancient seal script. And render bamboo as if writing in clerical characters. Only if one is truly able to comprehend this, will he realize. That calligraphy and painting are essentially the same.” Calligraphy has given Chinese poems, essays, letters and even official government documents a beauty that transcends the contents of what was written. There is no fixed relationship between the written Chinese language and the aesthetic beauty of calligraphy, but what is written with calligraphy does have meaning —— and this relationship between the aesthetics of writing and meaning of the words is unique to Chinese calligraphy. Original writings by famous calligraphers have been greatly valued throughout China's history and are mounted on scrolls and hung on walls in the same way that paintings are. There was a fashion, too, for adding more inscriptions or seals by subsequent owners and collectors, even adding extra portions of silk or paper to the original piece to accommodate them. From the 7th century CE, owners frequently added their own seal in red ink, for example, and if a piece changed hands, then the new owner would add their seal so that the history of the work’s ownership can sometimes be traced back hundreds of years. We often hear about the importance of cultural heritage. Because, it represents our history and our identity, our bond to the past, to our present, and the future. Thanks to Stephan Siquan Yin for the discussion. Your experience and professionalism will inspire more people to understand that traditional Chinese calligraphy provides deep learning. Please pay close attention to more interviews on  OGP,

1* Zhong Yao (151 - 230), was a government official and calligrapher who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty and Three Kingdoms period of China. He served in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. His calligraphy was highly regarded as he was known as one of the Four Talented Calligraphers in the history of Chinese calligraphy.

2* Zhang Zhi ( -192), was a Chinese calligrapher during the Han Dynasty. Born in Jiuquan, Gansu, he was a pioneer of the modern cursive script, and was traditionally honored as the Sage of Cursive Script. Furthermore, he is known as one of the Four Talented Calligraphers in Chinese calligraphy.

3* Wang Xizhi (303 - 361) was a Chinese writer and official who lived during the Jin Dynasty, best known for his mastery of Chinese calligraphy. Wang is generally regarded as the greatest Chinese calligrapher in history, and was a master of all forms of Chinese calligraphy, especially the running script. Furthermore, he is known as one of the Four Talented Calligraphers in Chinese calligraphy. Emperor Taizong of Tang admired his works so much that the original Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion (or Lanting Xu) was said to be buried with the emperor in his mausoleum.In addition to the esteem in which he is held in China, he has been and remains influential in Japanese calligraphy.

4* Wang Xianzhi (344 - 386), was a famous Chinese calligrapher of the Eastern Jin dynasty. He was the seventh and youngest son of the famed Wang Xizhi. Wang inherited his father's talent for the art, although his siblings were all notable calligraphers. His style is more fluid than his father's, demonstrating a reaction against Wang Xizhi's calligraphy. Amongst his innovations is the one-stroke cursive script, which blends all characters in the writing in a single stroke. Until the Tang Dynasty his influence and reputation rivaled and even surpassed that of his father. Along with his father, he was eventually crowned as one of the Four Talented Calligraphers in Chinese calligraphy.

5* Huang Xiang, was a calligrapher who lived during the Dong Wu (Eastern Wu) and Three Kingdoms period of China. His calligraphy was highly regarded as he was known as one of the Eight Talented Calligraphers in the Eastern Wu of Chinese calligraphy.

6* Suo Jing (239 - 303) was a calligrapher lived in the Western Jin period. Jis calligraphy was greatly influenced by Zhang Zhi. He was famous for his Caoshu, or the running/cursive script, especially Zhangcao. Suo’s calligraphy available today include ‘Chushi Song’ (Eulogy of Launching the Campaign), ‘Yueyi Tie’, and ‘Jijiu Zhang’ (Hurriedly Written Essay). Suo’s works were included in the famous Chunhuage Tie (a collection of model calligraphic works) produced in Song dynasty. Suo’s calligraphy influenced greatly the later calligraphers.

7* Liu Gongquan (778 - 865), was a Chinese calligrapher who stood with Yan Zhenqing as the two great masters of late Tang calligraphy. A minister like Yan of the Tang dynasty, Like him an expert of the regular script, Liu's works were imitated for centuries after and he is often referred in unison with his famed predecessor as "Yan-Liu".

8* Yan Zhenqing (709 - 785) was a leading Chinese calligrapher and a loyal governor of the Tang Dynasty. His artistic accomplishment in Chinese calligraphy is equal to that of the greatest master calligraphers of history, and almost all the calligraphers after him were more or less influenced by him. The trend of imitating Yan Zhenqing peaked during Song Dynasty. The "Four Grand Masters of the Song" —— Su Shi, Huang Tingjian, Mi Fu, Cai Xiang —— all studied the Yan Style; Su Shi even claimed Yan Zhenqing’s calligraphy to be "peerless" throughout history.

9* Ouyang Xun (557–641), was a Confucian scholar and calligrapher of the early Tang Dynasty. He was good at regular script and his most famous work is the Stele in the Jiucheng Palace. He was considered a cultured scholar and a government official. Along with Yu Shinan, Xue Ji, and Chu Suiliang he became known as one of the Four Great Calligraphers of the Early Tang. He notably wrote the inscription of the Kaiyuan Tongbao cash coin which became one of the most influential coins in Chinese history, this coin also influenced the calligraphic styles of other coinages in Japan, Sogdia, and Vietnam.

10* Huaisu (737–799), was a Buddhist monk and calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty, famous for his cursive calligraphy. Fewer than 10 pieces of his works have survived. One of his representative works is Huai Su's Autobiography. Famous poets of his time spoke highly of his works, including Li Bai. Traditionally Huaisu is paired with the older Zhang Xu as the two greatest cursive calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty. The duo is affectionately referred to as "the crazy Zhang and the drunk Su".

11* Zhang Xu, was a Chinese calligrapher and poet of the Tang Dynasty. He became an official during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. Though more well known for his explosive cursive script, he excelled in the regular script. He was known as the Divine Grassist for his great skill in the grass script. He is often paired with the younger Huaisu as the two greatest cursive calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty. The duo is affectionately referred to as "the crazy Zhang and the drunk Su".

12* Mi Fu (1051 - 1107) was a Chinese painter, poet, and calligrapher born in Taiyuan during the Song Dynasty. He is best known for his calligraphy, and he was regarded as one of the four greatest calligraphers of the Song Dynasty. His style arises from that of calligraphers in earlier dynasties, but with a unique mark of his own.

13* Su Shi (1037 - 1101), was a Chinese writer, poet, painter, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and a statesman of the Song dynasty. Su Shi was famed as an essayist, and his prose writings lucidly contribute to the understanding of topics such as 11th-century Chinese travel literature or detailed information on the contemporary Chinese iron industry. His poetry has a long history of popularity and influence in China, Japan, and other areas in the near vicinity and is well known in the English-speaking parts of the world through the translations by Arthur Waley, among others. In terms of the arts, Su Shi has some claim to being "the pre-eminent personality of the eleventh century."

14* Huang Tingjian (1045 - 1105) was a Chinese artist, scholar, government official, and poet of the Song dynasty. He is predominantly known as a calligrapher, and is also admired for his painting and poetry. He was one of the Four Masters of the Song Dynasty, and was a younger friend of Su Shi and influenced by his and his friends' practice of literati painting, calligraphy, and poetry. Huang is also regarded as a particularly fine and creative calligrapher of the Song Dynasty. His xingshu (semi-cursive style of script) displays a sharpness and aggression that is instantly recognizable to students of Chinese calligraphy.

15* Dong Qichang (1555 - 1636), was a Chinese painter, scholar, calligrapher, and art theorist of the later period of the Ming Dynasty.

16* Xu Wei (1521 - 1593) was a Ming Chinese painter, poet, calligrapher and dramatist famed for his artistic expressiveness. Xu Wei can be considered as the founder of modern painting in China.

17* Fu Shan (1607 - 1684), was a well-known calligrapher and art theorist during the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties.Fu Shan was well versed in poetry, literature, calligraphy and painting. He was unparalleled among the scholars in the early Qing Dynasty in terms of the broadness and achievement of his knowledge.

18* Wang Duo (1592 - 1652), was a Chinese calligrapher, painter, and poet in Ming dynasty. Wang's calligraphy followed the style of Yan Zhenqing and Mi Fu, utilizing refined strokes and perfect composition.

19* Lin Sanzhi (1898 - 1989) was a Chinese artist known for his skill in cursive script calligraphy. A defining feature of Lin’s work was his use of a dry brush to create long, thin strokes.

20* Wu Changshuo (1844 - 1927), was a prominent painter, calligrapher and seal artist of the late Qing Period. Prior to the collapse of the Great Qing, he served as an imperial official in Liaoning. He devoted himself to poetry and calligraphy with a strong interest in early scripts. He also led the Xiling Society of the Seal Art, an academic organisation for Hangzhou-based seal artists. Only later did he consider himself a painter associated with the "Shanghai School." His work garnered him fame and was highly regarded in Japan.

21* Qi Baishi (1864 - 1957) was a Chinese painter, noted for the whimsical, often playful style of his watercolor works. Some of Qi's major influences include the early Qing dynasty painter Bada Shanren (Zhu Da) and the Ming dynasty artist Xu Wei. The subjects of his paintings include almost everything, commonly animals, scenery, figures, toys, vegetables, and so on. He was also good at seal carving and called himself "the rich man of three hundred stone seals". In 1953 he was elected president of the China Artists Association.

22* Huang Binhong (1865 - 1955) was a Chinese literati painter and art historian born in Jinhua, Zhejiang province. He was the grandson of artist Huang Fengliu. He would later be associated with Shanghai and finally Hangzhou. He is considered one of the last innovators in the literati style of painting and is noted for his freehand landscapes. His painting style showed the influence of the earlier painters Li Liufang, Cheng Sui, Cheng Zhengkui, and Kun Can.

23* John M. Crawford Jr. (1913 - 1988), Born in Parkersburg, W.Va., Mr. Crawford was the son of a manufacturer of oil-drilling equipment. He was a prominent collector of Oriental art and a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.His collection as the largest and finest private assemblage of Chinese painting and calligraphy in the West.In 1981, Mr. Crawford gave 60 works, then estimated to be worth $18 million, to the Metropolitan Museum, which considerably enhanced the quality of the museum's collection. Among the significant works were paintings from the Sung Dynasty, one of the highest periods of Chinese landscapes and flower paintings.

24* Robert Hatfield Ellsworth (1929 - 2014) was a Manhattan-based American art dealer of Asian paintings and furniture from the Ming dynasty. His art collection can be found in museums in the United States. One of his clients was John D. Rockefeller III, who donated his collection to the Asia Society posthumously. Other clients included Sir Joseph Hotung, Herbert Irving, the co-founder of Sysco and socialite Brooke Astor. He published Chinese Furniture: Hardwood Examples of the Ming and Early Ch'ing Dynasty in 1970; it was reprinted in 1997. He also published Later Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: 1800-1950, a three-volume art book, in 1987. He purchased Christian Humann's art collection for US$12 million in 1981. It included 1,600 paintings and objets d'art. He later sold 15 paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and 15 more to the Cleveland Museum of Art as well as some more to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Some of the furniture he sold to the Met can see at the Astor Court. He also donated 500 paintings to the Met in 1986.

25* Brice Marden (1938 - ), was born as Nicholas Brice Marden Jr. in Bronxville, New York and grew up in nearby Briarcliff Manor, is an American artist, generally described as Minimalist, although his work may be hard to categorize. In 1988, Marden became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2000, Brown University awarded the artist an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts. His formal strategies is a preoccupation with rectangular formats, and the repeated use of a muted palette. In his early work of the 1960s and 1970s, he used simplified means, typically monochrome canvases either alone or in series of panels, diptychs or triptychs. These include the works The Dylan Painting, 1966; "1986" (now in the collection of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art); 1969's Fave (the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin); and Lethykos (for Tonto), 1976 (The Museum of Modern Art, New York). One of Marden's paintings sold for nearly $3 million at Christie's in May 2006. Marden’s Cold Mountain I (Path), managed to almost double his auction record from May 2008 when it sold at Sotheby's for $9,602,500 on an $10–15 million estimate. In 2013, Steven A. Cohen sold The Attended for $10.9 million at Sotheby's New York.

* By OGP Editors / Yin Siquan Provides File Photos


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