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TONG Yang-Tze: Calligraphy Roaring with Heroic Glory

 

Artist TONG Yang-Tze exhibits her calligraphy of Immortal at the River (Linjiang xian), the poem prefacing Three Kingdoms, at eslite spectrum Suzhou store from 17 April to 29 May. The calligraphy in scroll measures fifty-four meters, expressing the heroes' glory, humbleness, sorrow for parting, delight for reunion, and reflection after drinking found in the text. This is TONG's first solo show in China.

 

TONG Yang-Tze's calligraphy Immortal at the River was shown at Taipei Museum of Fine Arts in 2004. It runs over the walls with overwhelming potency. Now, the work is going to meet the audience at eslite spectrum Suzhou store. The above picture shows its installation view at Taipei Museum of Fine Arts in 2004.

 

TONG Yang-Tze was born in Shanghai in 1942. After graduating from the Department of Fine Arts at Taiwan Normal University, she went to the U.S. and acquired her M.F.A. at the University of Massachusetts. In 2015, she was awarded the second-rank Order of Brilliant Star. Under her father's instruction, she had modelled after the works of calligraphy masters, such as YANG Zhengqing, WANG Xizhi, and WANG Xianzhi, from the age of eight until high school. Then at college, she studied under such masters as TAI Jingnong and imitated the clerical script of Han dynasty and the works of four masters in Song dynasty. In the U.S., she studied Western art theories and began to attempt the application of western composition in her calligraphy. Ultimately, she was able to surpass the limits of traditional Chinese calligraphy and ink art, moving on to develop contemporary artworks that extend the beauty of space and express the rhythm of sound.

 

Installation View of TONG Yang-Tze's Immortal at the River at Taipei Museum of Fine Arts, 2014.

 

TONG's works have melted into the everyday life of Taiwanese people. People can see her writings of the following titles in public spheres: Taipei Train Station, Cloud Gate Dance Theater, the film The Grandmasters, and the novel Crystal Boys. All these names appear in the form of her brushwork.

 

TONG Yang-Tze's Writing of "Cloud Gate Dance Theater"

 

To be exhibited at eslite spectrum Suzhou store this time, her writing of Immortal at the River draws from the work of a writer in Chinese Ming dynasty, YANG Shen, whose following writer, LUO Guanzhong in Qing dynasty, adopted the lyric to unfold his Three Kingdoms.

 

"Immortal at the River" (YANG Shen)*

On and on the Great River rolls, racing east.

Of proud and gallant heroes its white-tops leave no trace,

As right and wrong, pride and fall turn all at once unreal.

Yet ever the green hills stay

To blaze in the west-waning day.

 

Fishers and woodsmen comb the river isles.

White-crowned, they’ve seen enough of spring and autumn

To make a good company over the winter jar,

Where many a famed event

Provides their merriment.

 

*Translation by Moss Roberts in Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel. London: The Regents of the University of California, 2014.

 

Installation View of TONG Yang-Tze's Immortal at the River at Taipei Museum of Fine Arts, 2014.

 

TONG Yang-Tze creates contemporary art through calligraphy. Under her re-interpretation, this classic work visually expresses heroic glory and worldly desolation through the movements and gradations of her brushes. Immortal at the River is her longest work; together with the installation of sands in the hall, the lyric from the ancient Ming is vibrant enough to penetrate through the viewers.  

 

 

TONG Yang-Tze, Detail of Immortal at the River (Rolls)

 

 

TONG Yang-Tze, Detail of Immortal at the River (Hero)

 

According to an interview conducted by Global View Monthly, TONG in her early years often consulted TAI Jingnong for opinions. Once, the master, delighted in discussion, gave her a little note and solemnly told her that on the note was written the key to supreme calligraphy, left by Qing Dao Ren(the self-appellation of Li Ruiqing, a renowned calligrapher in late Qing dynasty)to CHANG Dai-chien. The key is: "One bears in mind the paper in full stretch but sees no full expanse of a character in front." Years later when re-examining her own works, TONG Yang-Tze felt that those to her satisfaction are works that echo the saying.

 

 

TONG Yang-Tze, Detail of Immortal at the River (The Winter Jar)

 

 

TONG Yang-Tze, Detail of Immortal at the River (To blaze in the west-waning day)

 

One should not approach TONG's work via the lens of traditional calligraphy. In square or in scroll, her work is contemporary, given the characters' composition and the brushwork's rhythm, as well as the space and temporality generated on the paper. "Calligraphy mirrors one's mind," as TAI Jingnong once remarked, or as a critic indicated: "the Qi of traditional Chinese calligraphy" is turned into "the dynamic rhythm of painting calligraphy" in her work. TONG Yang-Tze draws from classic literature and history, but she is competent to create disparate meanings in each re-writing.  

 


 

Exhibit: Calligraphy Work of TONG Yang-Tze

Date: 17 April—29 May 2016

Venue: 3F eslite Exhibition and Performance Hall, the eslite spectrum Suzhou store | No. 8, Yuelang St., Suzhou Industrial Park, Jiangsu Province, China

Opening Hours: 10am—10pm, every day

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