许静 / 坐忘 / 纸本酒书 / 2018 / 96.4×180.8cm
Ms. Xu Jing practices both modern calligraphy, which doesn’t seem to bear much aesthetic scrutiny, and classic calligraphy, which has a lasting appeal. Now her modern calligraphy has more lasting appeal than that of others, and her classic calligraphy looks more “modern.” She can alternate between the dynamic of cursive script and the decorum of regular script. Now she is particularly good at modern calligraphy, which suits her character well. Her great courage and dexterity makes her a good calligrapher in terms of large-sized characters. With fluency and great style in movements, she has a good control of a large brush, which, in turn, lends her a sense of weight. When writing large-size characters, like a long-sleeved dancer, she was creative enough to blur the lines among calligraphy, painting, and dance. Some people used to write calligraphy in a way to imitate paintings, and the stock-in-trade was to add ripples or hills when it came to writing water- or mountain-related characters. The “bird-and-insect” script and the works on the theme of the spirit of dragons and tigers don’t deserve much mention. However, calligraphy with few characters is not about such artistic flirtation or old tricks. Although similar to painting, it is not painting after all. Their difference is comparable to the contrast between a rock from the bonsai market and the rock arranged by Ieoh Ming Pei beside a pool against a white wall at Suzhou Museum. In fact, Ieoh Ming Pei’s rock and the artificial rocks in Suzhou traditional gardens cannot be mentioned in the same breath, for it is modernity that sets them apart. Take Xu Jing’s works for example. The beauty of her calligraphy with few characters lies in its integration with design, which is more closely related to modernity than pure art. In other words, design is synonymous with modernity and life, and pure art is their expression and reflection. For Xu Jing’s calligraphy with few characters, it is the integration with modernity that blurs the distinction between calligraphy and painting. Xu Jing began to practice classic calligraphy since her childhood, an experience that threatened to confine her to traditions. Fortunately, somehow she studied design in her college years, which opened her eyes to contemporary art beyond classic calligraphy and enabled her to shift freely between modernity and tradition. That explains why her calligraphy with few characters has a sense of unrestrained boldness.