A Grand View of Artistic Intention — Selected Calligraphy Since the Song Dynasty

This one-month special exhibition on Chinese calligraphy just concluded a week ago at Zhejiang Art Museum in Hangzhou. It showcased many rubbings and handwritings of calligraphy from masters since the Song dynasty. Chinese calligraphy has always used “intention” as the aesthetic standard, requiring calligraphy creation to have “true intention” and express the emotion and interest of the calligrapher.

When Chinese calligraphy developed till the Song dynasty, “focus on intention” is the ideological characteristics of the calligraphy of that period. Su Shi’s poem said, “I didn’t have a fixed way to express my intention, and I put the dots and strokes naturally without deliberation.”

In terms of the relationship between form and spirit, between method and intention, more emphasis is placed on the aesthetic status and significance of spirit and intention. They advocated “spontaneous” writing, and opposed deliberate workmanship; advocated “creation of artistic intention”, “discerning inner rhythm of work”, and “true delight”, and pursue an art with words beyond the words, simple and meaningful, straightforward and natural, unrestrained and simple. From the emphasis on “intention of mind” before the Song dynasty to making the inner meaning of calligraphical works as a social norm, which became the aesthetic fashion of the Song dynasty, a great progress is made in the art of Chinese calligraphy.

Source: Zhejiang Art Museum

Photos: China Online Museum