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Daily Practice - Poetry prose – the Unspoken Word

These magnificent new calligraphic works act as paintings that infuse colour into fluid cursive script, in which miscellaneous words act as meditative thoughts steeped in classical allusion and subjective moments of time. Wang’s words transfer random thoughts, interpreted through the painterly sweep of the brush, invoking writing that taps into the subconscious train of thought, which is barely translatable. Snippets of nature – the moon, mountains and streams - and reverence for history and classicism are mixed up into a piece of prose that is shaped into a single text. Fragmented yet contained, they mirror the creative life-force of the mind, as fragmented ideas move through the cerebral sphere in a ‘mindful’ rhythm of unspoken words. 

Visually, these calligraphic paintings are neither pure painting, nor pure calligraphy, thereby fusing the two forms into one. Colour pallets structure the works, so that a soft brown tone in one is offset by different blues, yellows and greens in others, as though colour itself acts as a marker of the work’s mood within a series. The use of colour aesthetically informs references to tradition itself, such as the blue-greens of the Tang dynasty and the tonal use of colours to denote the change in seasons. In the poetic landscape tradition, colour is an essential component, often acting subtly within the composition to offset the nuanced dark-to-pale ink tones. The Daily Practice works invoke the daily internal rhythm of the mind as a meditative activity in the discipline of calligraphy, necessitated by the need to practice as a daily ritual for the attainment of ‘cultivation’ and enlightenment, in the inevitable journey towards mastery of the form over a lifetime. 

As experimental, personal forms of expression rendered as flowing cursive strokes, they also recall the modernist moment of the early twentieth century when fragments of speech and ‘stream of consciousness’ were brought into fictional work by great writers such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Language in China has gone through similar transformations in the modern period, from the dense classical forms holding centuries of literary stylistic references into a modern vernacular style to affect more accessible communication brought about in the May Fourth era. Beyond this, the intricate ideological terminology of Maoism in the mid to late twentieth century by which Wang would be surrounded during his youth, has been supplanted by the recent revival and appreciation of the greater richness of language encompassing old and new lexicons.   Wang’s use of poetic and archaic terms displays his deep interest in the accumulative abundance of culture over centuries if not millennia. These contemporary paintings perhaps make it look easy, but the apparent ‘chaotic’ script where characters overlay each other, contains a fusion of aesthetic and conceptual meanings that echo and reverberate with the past.