Thursday, March 15, 2007

Endless Sung Calligraphy: Part Two

I'm still sifting through the National Palace Website -- but was having a hard time finding the end of my original post --

so here's Part Two -- beginning with that most lovable of eccentrics, Lin P'u (967-1028)

(style name Chun Fu, posthumous name Ching-Ho)

He lived in seclusion
admiring plum blossoms and raising cranes
never married, never took official position
and people said that:
"Plum blossoms are his wife, cranes are his children"

Palace Website notes added that:

"This calligraphic style of fine thinness and pure strength reflects his archaic loftiness and indifference to seeking gain or pleasing others.
The content of his poetry was rarefied, reflecting his life of seclusion and casual attitude."

What fanciful nuttiness !

I love this guy --
because , of course, it's nutty
but also much more.

and what about these two ?

He certainly did love cranes, didn't he !

And all of these remind me of those
bizarre symbols screeched upon those
enormous blackboards in classrooms
of higher mathematics.
(and I think that's ALL I remember about that subject)

How's this for a charming progression ?
(reminding me of an instruction book in origami)

..or this, even more wonderful progression
as if all calligraphy could be reduced to four dots.

Su Shih apparently wrote:

"this calligraphy errs in lacking flesh
-- outer form is similar to Liu T'ai,
but the thin brushwork and loose characters are quite different"

But as you can see -- he knew how to make a fat letter if he wanted one -
he just didn't need them that often.

and Huang T'ing Chien wrote:

"particularly marvelous in its pure force"

So... what are these ?
Bird tracks in the snow ?


And now we return, again, to the even more beloved Mi Fu

To quote the above linked essay in Wikipedia
(which, BTW, is better than anything I've read there on any European artist)

"He had sometimes difficulty in admitting the values of others and found more pleasure in making sharp and sarcastic remarks than in expressing his thoughts in a just and balanced way."

Yes !!! Mi Fu -- I love you !

And there's a sensuality about Mi Fu
that's so far removed from the Lin P'u shown above

Mi Fu was a man of the world
the son of an emperor (like Prince Genji)

who could devote himself to a full, active life --

*poetry and painting
*holding positions of authority (but probably not having to work very hard)
*siring a family
*entertaining literary/artsy friends
*collecting great painting

And .. couldn't the above joyful confusion depict a full day well spent ?

This is a man who really knew how to have a good time --

but the main thing that seems to have frustrated him

was not the girl that got away (as tormented poor Genji)

but the painting that got away

And this collection of wonderful characters
comprised a letter detailing his profound
disappointment at not having been able to purchase a painting that he wanted

Again -- according to the Wikipedia essay:

There is even an anecdote according to which Mi Fu, once being out in a boat with his friends, was shown a sample of Wang Hsi-chih’s writing and this made him so excited that he threatened to jump overboard unless the owner made him a present of it, which, apparently, could not be refused.

I get the feeling that he didn't feel all that constrained by tradition.
If something seemed to work -- he tried it.

Man playing bongos ?

Two men playing bongos ?

(my favorite effect is very fat next to very thin)

and some of his characters seem like they should be in a sacred, middle eastern text,
like the Talmud or Koran

A clever wit delivering the punch line ?

I want this one for a flag
(if my boat ever goes in the water again)

The latest in Spring Fashions

for the elegant urbanite

man watching three girls dancing ?

The fat-thin-and enclosed space here
is just way too delicious

A contest of wits
(the fellow on the left seems to be winning
but he can't see the low blow that's about to arrive)

This is the kind of sensuality
that would be so foreign to Lin P'u

.. this is a man who loves to run his hand
over full, smooth bodies

What a party this must have been --

that line of characters down the middle appears to have been an afterthought
(i.e. a group of late arrivals)

.. but how well it fits in between the two sides

Complexity for its own sake

.. that's not a bad thing

Prince Genji dancing...
(with two young girls to accompany him)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry folks, I inadvertantly turned off comments off for this post.

The following comments were kindly left elsewhere .. and everything
is working now the way it should:

Marly wrote: I love that description of the life married to flowers, parenting crane. And then you end up with bird tracks on snow--surely the feet of his own delicate children. (I mean cranes)

Lori wrote:Chris, my friend -- am leaving a comment misplaced here, because for some reason comments on your very most recent Sung calligraphy post (a treasure for my mind, eye and heart, BTW) aren't showing up on my monitor.

I did a bit of digging into that wonderful Wikipedian whose commentary you cited, and wanted to share --

He seems like a man to meet!

March 16, 2007  
Blogger Lori said...

Yay!!! Comments are back!

Saw your note re: Crispin Sartwell. Of course Marion Winik was an Austin writer of some local fame -- and equally of course, I didn't know that, or their connection, until I got his book and read a bit more about it.

Lovely lovely lovely and mind-blowing calligraphy. Was there anything those gents couldn't do?

Oh foo, my Google login is wonky. No eye-in-reading-glasses. Maybe it's time to get some sleep and dream of ink-and-brush genii.

March 16, 2007  

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