Versatile artist Wang puts on a stunning display

Updated: 2016-05-17 08:14

By Deng Zhangyu(China Daily)

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Artist Wang Yong has had a passion for calligraphy, Chinese painting and seal cutting since the age of 12. And his solo show in Taiyuan, in Shanxi province, offers a glimpse into the world of the versatile artist's understanding of traditional Chinese art.

The 68-year-old has more than 100 works of his calligraphy, ink paintings and seals of stone and clay on display at Taiyuan Art Museum through May 30.

The show attracted hundreds of visitors and some well-known Chinese artists on Sunday when it was opened to the public.

"It's very rare to have a versatile artist - good at calligraphy, painting and seal cutting. Wang is one such master with a unique style," says Fan Di'an, head of the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Versatile artist Wang puts on a stunning display

Typically, a Chinese painting also has a poem or a sentence on it to give viewers a sense of the painter's feelings when he was working on it.

So, it was common for a painter to invite a calligrapher to write sentences or poems on his painting, and to put his name on the work using a seal made by another artist or craftsman.

But, in Wang's case, he does all the three things himself.

And Wang says: "Chinese calligraphy, ink painting and seal cutting have a lot in common. For me, they are the same art form."

Hu Kangmei, an artist known for his calligraphy, says Wang blends his calligraphy technique into ink paintings and seal-cutting.

Wang set up the department of calligraphy in 2010 at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, a college that has produced many well-known artists.

But before the department was set up, many artists believed that calligraphy was not an art form that matched Chinese painting to merit a separate department in art colleges.

Wang gained fame early in the 1980s for his seals, an art form in China dating back 3,700 years.

It needs an artist to be good at calligraphy and engraving to make seals.

His current show has stone seals as well as clay seals - a new material in which he grew interested a few years ago.

Born in Beijing in 1948, Wang learned calligraphy and painting at 6.

When he was 12, he went to see a show of Qi Baishi (1864-1957) and Xu Beihong (1895-1953), which inspired him to learn seal-cutting, an art form that master Qi was good at.

Qi was also widely known for his ink paintings of shrimps.

Later, he joined the Central Academy of Fine Arts and studied under Li Keran (1907-89), a modern art master who was good at ink paintings of figures and landscapes.

For decades, Wang devoted himself to his art, though none of his works was sold.

But he says a calligrapher and an ink painter must learn to enjoy loneliness to perfect his art.

A good one must also learn to think during the lonely times, he says.

"What should I create - do calligraphy, draw or make a seal? I do it on a whim. When I'm bored by one thing, I turn to another," says Wang.

The artist has donated some of his works to the Taiyuan Art Museum as his father was born in Taiyuan.

(China Daily 05/17/2016 page18)