Calming Calligraphy

rom the moment I entered the Wang Fungyu exhibit "Dancing Ink," I felt at peace. The works exude a kind of calm not present in some Western art, although the pieces do have a Mondrian-like quality of balance without symmetry.

The Chinese calligraphy exhibit at the DUMA includes 11 works of ink on rice paper framed in tapestry on scrolls by Fungyu. It also contains one piece by the Ming Dynasty scion Bada Shanren, whose work Fungyu avidly collected.

Each of Fungyu's pieces uses expressive brush strokes and often heavy pigmentation to convey messages even to those who cannot read the Chinese characters. The symbols fill the space without overwhelming the viewer.

Fungyu was born in Beijing in 1913 and began training in the art of Chinese calligraphy at the age of three. The training included instruction in the "Four Treasures" of calligraphy--brush, ink, inkstone and paper, and Fangyu eventually mastered all six forms of calligraphy. The brushwork in calligraphy is a building block of Chinese painting.

Fangyu immigrated to the United States in 1945 due to political turmoil in China and new opportunities here. He began teaching Chinese language was a professor at both Yale and Seton Hall universities before his death in 1997.

The exhibit will be housed in the DUMA beginning today and running through March 24. The opening reception will be tonight with refreshments and a cash bar at 5:30pm and a lecture at 6pm. The reception is $3 for the public, $2 for students and free to Friends of the Art Museum.


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