Fung Ming Chip - SHU-FA SUTRA

Galerie du Monde is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work by Chinese artist Fung Ming Chip, which runs from 11 November – 31 December 2015. The primary focus of this exhibition will be Fung Ming Chip’s calligraphy which he has been practicing since 1976. In addition, the artist’s extensive collection of hand-carved seals will also be displayed, each one a unique art work. 25 new calligraphy works created by the artist are brought together in this exhibition, showcasing his redefinition of Chinese calligraphy as a contemporary art form, while still embracing its traditional elements. It is this unique practice that has seen Fung Ming Chip’s work included in some of the most important collections of Chinese calligraphy around the world.


Calligraphy is historically revered in China for its links to literacy and elite culture, requiring years of extensive training. Rules of technique and of the relationship between the ‘time and space’ elements of the strokes are firmly stipulated. Traditionally, there are six basic styles of calligraphic script that have evolved over time. Fung Ming Chip has created over 100, many of which are presented in this exhibition. With these scripts, Fung deconstructs and reorders the spatial arrangement of the Chinese characters, as well as stripping-back the rules of ‘time and space’ in each stroke, creating something that is visually and philosophically progressive.


On display will be works that demonstrate ‘water-writing’, a technique where the artist first dips his brush in water before marking the characters with gestural movements across the surface of the absorbent xuan paper. This paper is the traditional material used by Chinese calligraphers for centuries, with its own inherent and unique qualities. Unlike in oil or acrylic painting, where the second stroke can provide significant coverage over the first, the absorbency of xuan paper prevents the first layer from being eradicated. When Fung Ming Chip writes over his initial water marks in ink, they cannot be penetrated fully, appearing through the ink as if rising to the surface, marking the passage of time with their reemergence. 


Fung Ming Chip also breaks boldly with past conventions of calligraphy in subject-matter. While traditional works focus on subjects such as flowers, birds and landscapes, Fung Ming Chip explores matters including technology, sexuality and drug use, demonstrating his use of calligraphy to express an uninhibited contemporary experience. Through the essence of his chosen art form, his development of technique and a diversification of subject matter, the modern, traditional, real and abstract are all found harmonised in his calligraphy.


Also on display will be hand-carved seals made by the artist. Made from soapstone, seals are believed to have originated in the 17th century to mark ownership of paintings. They are considered works of art themselves, and are traditionally stamped on to calligraphy using vermilion ink, indicating the identity of the artist. Fung Ming Chip began carving seals in 1975 and his styles break away from the past, creating new forms, some of which contain legible characters or pictographs, and others that are fanciful.