The Chinese writing system is the oldest written language in continual use anywhere in the world, with origins dating back more than three thousand years. According to ancient legend, Chinese characters were invented by the great sage Cang Jie (an official in the court of the mythical Yellow Emperor), who was inspired by bird footprints. While even in their earliest known form Chinese characters achieved a complexity far beyond mere pictographs, many Chinese words in use today still resemble the objects to which they refer; for example, “tree” (木) shows the trunk and branches of a tree, while the modern compound for “forest” (森林) consists of two words made up of three and two trees, respectively.
One of the “Three Perfections” (poetry, calligraphy, and painting), calligraphy was a fundamental foundation of Chinese culture, establishing a link between the visual and the literary arts. Since the Chinese brush reflects even the slightest movements of the artist’s hand, and each work of calligraphy clearly reveals its entire process of creation in the “traces” left behind by the brush and ink on paper or silk, calligraphy is considered the most personal, intimate, and revealing of all Chinese art forms.
Despite its great antiquity, Chinese calligraphy remains a vital, living tradition in Chinese communities around the world. The Academy is honored to present for the first time to a U.S. audience the calligraphy of Chen Wei-Teh, one of Taiwan’s most renowned practitioners. Dr. Chen is Director of the Department of Chinese Literature at Mingdao University. An advisor to the Taiwanese Ministry of Education and former President of the Chinese Calligraphy Association, Dr. Chen is an expert in Chinese literature and Confucian philosophy. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in Taiwan and throughout Asia, and is the recipient of many artistic and cultural awards. -SHAWN EICHMAN, CURATOR OF ASIAN ART