Chinese calligraphy / painting without pictures

In China, calligraphy is described as a painting without a picture, music without sound, dance without an actor or a building without materials. In his book La calligraphie chinoise,  Chen Tingyou, a Chinese specialist in the aesthetics of calligraphy and the author of many works on the subject, summarizes the characteristics of this art: “Through the form, composition and order of the brushstrokes, calligraphy offers, in a direct but abstract manner, all the formal elements of aesthetics: balance, symmetry, unevenness, continuity, contrast, rest/movement, variation and harmony. […] In calligraphy, as in music, rhythm is the central element. Works of calligraphy clearly demonstrate changes in rhythm with strokes that are thick or thin, light or firm, round or square, made slowly or quickly, with a clear or dark nuance. The calligrapher pours out a stream of ideas in the same way that a musician does. That is why critics often describe pieces of calligraphy as a melodious piece of music.” Such analogies are often made with other art forms, such as dance or painting.


Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player