A rare opportunity to view the Tea and Zen related Chinese calligraphy by the master Chinese calligrapher Don Wong (王黨).
Don Wong's calligraphy practice has spanned over 75 years. His work is mainly focuses on the subject of tea art. Don's cursive script is fluid with well controlled brush strength, a harmony of boldness and softness, full of drama and spirit.
For the first time in North America, the Tea Zen multi- disciplinary media art exhibition is thrilled to show this amazing collection of calligraphic works by Mr. Wong in Vancouver. 'Don Wong: Tea Calligraphy / 王黨: 茶藝書法展' will be part of the Tea Zen Exhibition.
July 1st to Aug 31st
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
July 2nd to July 31st
A Passion for Calligraphy, an Outpouring of Artistic Conception
A Review on the Calligraphy Exhibition of the Taiwanese Calligrapher Don Wong
By Wang Jun
“The fragrance of Anxi tea flows in the air; The art of calligraphy exudes from the heart. The artistry of South Mountain emanates an extraordinary hue; The guest is inebriate without knowing the springhead.”
These stanzas came up on my mind while I was attending the calligraphy exhibition of the Taiwan renowned calligrapher Don Wong (pseudonym: Nanshan “South Mountain”). I wrote these lines on the guest book as an appreciation to the show.
Before the Spring Festival , Don and the Taiwanese painter Du Junmin held a calligraphy and painting exhibition entitled “Writing the Affinity of the Straits; Drawing the Unity of Our Ancestral Country” in Xiamen. I rambled through the exhibition hall and browsed through more than fifty calligraphic works in a variety of styles, including works written in semi-cursive, clerical, cursive, clerical, Shu Tong’s, and Luo Dan’s scripts. Vertical or horizontal, mere character or poetry, sturdy or flimsy, dense or light—every line is written with strength and vigor, every piece is artistic and good-looking, every expression is sublime. This is definitely a feast for the eyes, a dazzling array of beautiful exhibits. Raise your eyes and take a panoramic view, the works are structurally spaced out and perfectly interspersed in the exhibition hall. They are mounted on elegant and yellowish white silk fabric and framed with dark borders, adding a definitive layer, creating a third-dimensional visual effect, and making the calligraphies even more stand out with enhanced elegance. Every character is simple and unsophisticated yet elegant and vigorous, fully reflecting the refined artistry and deep-seated skills of the calligrapher.142
Don Wong was born in Anxi county, Fujian province, China. He first migrated to Hong Kong and then Taiwan subsequently. He used to travel frequently between the two harbours and make a living in trading Anxi tea. Since early childhood, Don had been practicing calligraphy under the guidance of his father and his elder brothers , who were passionate about the art. At the age of 11, Don began to consolidate his calligraphic skills by practicing with the rubbings of master calligraphers Yan Zhenqing and Liu Gongquan and to collect the rubbings of disparate script styles, such as semi-cursive, regular, cursive, clerical, and seal scripts, from various regions. His horizon was broadened with a wide scope of calligraphic materials and his calligraphic skills were refined by absorbing the skills of schools of different localities. He used to substitute papers with hexagonal bricks and ink with water and practiced repeatedly and diligently on the bricks. After he entered the workforce, he took on a particular interest on the style of Shu Tong. Not having been able to practice with Shu Tong’s rubbings, he went all around collecting newspaper and magazine cuttings of his calligraphies and eagerly practiced with them. As a result, his skills progressed speedily. In a coincidental encounter with renowned calligrapher Luo Dan, he was bestowed with a copy of his rubbings. Since then, he became even more devoted to calligraphy. His calligraphy reflects a well-balanced combination of Luo Dan’s “sturdiness” and Shu Tong’s “flimsiness” and embodies his own artistic conception and his passion for life. While endeavoring to pass on the artistic legacy of the great calligraphers, both qualitatively and quantitatively, he also strives to expand his calligraphic creativity by exploring new artistic possibilities. Consequently, he was able to breakthrough an artistic path of his own, solely and uniquely his. In the spring of 1985, in an exhibition of Chinese and Japanese calligraphies that took place in Taiwan, for the very first time, Don exhibited three of his works written in two different scripts. His works were well received with applause. Since then, he became a frequent participant in Taiwan calligraphy exhibitions. He has gone to places such as Singapore and Malaysia several times for his solo exhibitions. He also became a renowned calligrapher active in Southeast Asia. Since 1987, his works have been widely collected by calligraphy enthusiasts all over the world.
The calligraphic works in six scripts displayed in this exhibition fully reveal Don’s artistic talent and unique appeal. His brush strength and form are comparable to those of the ancient master calligraphers. He writes with fluidity and steadiness and he is able to maneuver his brush unrestrainedly. He moves the brush shaft with the strength and vigor, while the lateral expands elegantly and naturally. The works shown in this exhibition are predominantly in semi-cursive and cursive scripts. The characters could be described with the word “slim”. For instance, his work on Wang Wei’s poem “A Song at Weicheng” clearly demonstrates his vigorous and firm pen strength and his natural and unrestrained brush movement. When a brush is held in his hand, it moves as flowing clouds and running streams. The characters are structured freely and elegantly, coupled firmness with softness, yet traces of refined calligraphic skills cannot be concealed. The thickness of the lines, the denseness of ink, spacing of the characters, and the variance in shape—all are well thought out and controlled. Between the lines and the characters has permeated Don’s artistic passion, wisdom, discernment, talent, and superb artistry and embodied his mature brush skills, overwhelming vigor, elegant artistic conception, and aesthetic sensitivity. His works give the viewers a sense of tranquility, clarity, and soothingness, yet overwhelm with vibrant sentiments and lofty ideals.
Poems speak of aspiration; calligraphies convey feelings. Don is a man of integrity. He is gentle, reticent, moderate, modest, and quiet. Don’s disposition reminds me of an ancient saying, “Peaches and plums do not speak, but trails always form at their bases.
A Lifelong Affinity to Tea and a Love for Calligraphy
By Wu Yongji
Don Wong, a Taiwan renowned calligrapher who has frequently traversed between the straits of Xiamen and Taiwan to participate in numerous calligraphy exhibitions, was invited to produce calligraphy in situ in an opening ceremony that took place in Xiamen last month . Don’s works, being juxtaposed with those of mainland calligraphers Chen Meixian and Wan Feng and painters Lu Yi and Zhu Zugui, attracted a lot of attention.. Don waved his brush and wrote down a single gigantic character, Fu “beatitude”, in one stroke. The breathtaking scene has earned the admiration of the present author, who thus decided to interview this renowned calligrapher of the straits.
A Lifelong Affinity to Tea, an Affectionate Cup of Puer Tea
Don’s ancestral home is in Anxi county, Fujian province. Approaching the end of the Cultural Revolution, Don filed a migration application and moved to Hong Kong. He then subsequently settled in Taiwan. Recently, Don has frequently traversed between the straits to participate in numerous calligraphy exhibitions. At this moment, he is preparing for a up-coming solo exhibition.
In the 80s, Puer Tea started to gain wide popularity. Under the vigorously promotion of a wide array of merchants, Puer Tea’s “the older the better taste” quality and “health enhancing and life prolonging” effect had been gradually recognized and became a part of the everyday life of people. At that point of time, Don was also named among the Puer Tea merchants.
When the hot topic of the past “Is Puer Tea a kind of antique?” entered our chat, Don responded casually, “Puer Tea is both an antique and a non-antique. The golden-squash tributary tea kept in the Imperial Palace has a history of several hundred years. It is rightly called an antique. However, the new tea that has been produced in large quantity each year has lost the appeal of antiqueness.”
When we talked about the spontaneous poem that he composed in the second worldwide meeting of the Anxi People’s Association, Don let slip these words, “Luxuriant hills and green streams are my Anxi; to the tea rhymes and diffused aroma, the wanderers returned. Relatives and friends scattered around the world waved their iron arms, cheerfully welcomed the new scene and banished poverty.” He honestly disclosed to the interviewer, “This is a version that I have subsequently revised. The content is slightly different from the one composed in situ.” Perhaps, the revision reflects a wanderer’s passion and nostalgia towards his home village.
Calligraphy: An Interpretation of the Wisdom of Life
Don Wong is a calligrapher active in Southeast Asia. He has participated in numerous calligraphy exhibitions in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. His works are well appreciated and collected in China and other countries. In 1994, he held a calligraphy show in Singapore. In 1996, he began to exhibit his works in mainland China. In one of his Xiamen exhibitions, he co-exhibited with the “plum-blossom” Chinese watercolor master painter Gu Junmin, who has been named among the “ten most outstanding painters in the world.”
Since early childhood, Don had been practicing calligraphy under the guidance of his father and his elder brothers , who were passionate about the art. At the age of 11, Don began to consolidate his calligraphic skills by practicing with the rubbings of master calligraphers Yan Zhenqing and Liu Gongquan. At the same time, he started to use water in lieu of ink to hone his calligraphic skills on the traditional hexagonal bricks outside his family home, thus laying a firm calligraphic foundation. Having finished school and entered into the work force, he took on a particular interest on the style of Shu Tong. At the young age of 21, he was invited to various work units, such as the Fujian Anxi Tea Company, to write poems and shop signs.
Later on, Don encountered Luo Dan, one of the top ten calligraphers, coincidentally in Hong Kong. The master calligrapher bestowed him a copy of his rubbings based on Mao Zedong’s poems. Don has produced many calligraphic works; most of them were written for tea firms. Among them, Du Xiaoshan’s poem “A Cold Night” is superbly framed in artistic conception: elegance and vitality merge naturally. The piece reflects the creativity of the calligrapher and his overwhelming expressive power.