I would like to present my calligraphy, made with brush and ink, where I either mix languages or look at the Chinese characters from a different, say laowaiish (foreign) perspective. They are born out of diverse mental processes of character dissection, combination, twisting, and tweaking that require varying levels of Chinese language proficiency to be appreciated. While fully knowing that a pun or a wordplay that comes with an explanation loses half of its charm, I decided to append short notes to make it a bit more accessible to those who are not yet familiar with the Chinese language.
Each work is created by me and is 100% original, without any conscious borrowing from any artist. Actually, besides Xu Bing’s (徐冰) excellent and most creative exercise with English words written in a way to look like a Chinese script and his fake characters in the Book from the Sky (天書) series, I haven’t seen other Chinese calligraphers transgressing the invisible line of tradition and throwing the characters into the cross-cultural and inter-lingual melting pot. It might as well be because I’m limited in my knowledge of modern Chinese calligraphy. In this case, I’m 拋磚引玉ing — “demonstrating [humble] bricks [of my works in order] to be shown the [precious] jade [of other’s masterpieces]”.
Any work can be painted on order — so it will be a unique brushwork on each order — and mounted into the traditional scroll. Centuries-proven and aesthetically pleasing format provides contrasting support to the transcultural and postmodern nature of the content.
For ordering, payment, and shipment details, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Albert, known as PAPAHUHU, or 囫囫耶耶
P.S. Shufa 書法 is how calligraphy is called in Chinese. Since my work is a combination of different cultures, I accordingly call it by a name combining shufa and calligraphy: shufagraphy.
- shufagraphy #1 MOON
The framing element of character for the moon — 月, is slightly bent on the top to make it into M. Two O’s replace the inner horizontal strokes and N… well, N is just there to make it to the moon.
- shufagraphy #2 AGREEMENT
The word «agreement» in Chinese is a combination of 同 “sameness” + 意 “idea”. The square element of 同 is called “mouth” and I painted it as a mouth open in a macabre grin with a few teeth. I think you’d agree that sometimes we agree to agree with a painful smile.
- shufagraphy #3 HAVE MONEY
The concept of “to have” in Chinese is expressed with the character 有. In Cantonese, there is also 冇 which means “not to have”. I placed 金 — “gold/money” into either 有 or 冇 and only the viewer can say if that means “having money” or “not having money”. Duality has always played an important role in the Chinese worldview.
- shufagraphy #4 FREEDOM
The pair of characters used to translate the concept of “freedom” actually has more precise connotations in Chinese: 自由 can be interpreted as 由 “acting on behalf/setting forth/being the origin” in 自 “oneself”, e.g. one is free when one’s decisions and actions are coming from oneself. But 自 “self” can be our biggest prison or limiting factor, hence I added the bars. All other connotations I leave to the liberty of the viewer.
- shufagraphy #5 WORD
言 is more of a “spoken word” than just a word, but I’d say the mix of 言 and “word” creates a word recognizable in both languages.
- shufagraphy #6 RAIN
雨 is “rain” and with just one splash the right part of 雨 becomes R and the rest just kind of drops in the right places.
- shufagraphy #7 COMPASSION
同 “same” + 情 “feeling” means “compassion”. Does the 同 with its sorrowful mouth make a pitiful face, feeling for someone else troubles or is it a hypocritical trickster just pretending to feel sorry?
- shufagraphy #8 WAR
The left part of the simplified character 战 from a certain angle looks like a tank, especially if wheels are added. And what about the right part? Well, I don’t know, who is on the right part…
- shufagraphy #9 MALE GHOST
Wouldn’t you agree that 男 “male” and 鬼 “ghost/devil” seemingly share their top part? So, why not combine them into one: “sinister male” if you turn it one way or “male ghost” if you turn it the other. Hmmm, isn’t it a bit toxic?
- shufagraphy #10 ANGER
The common phrase for “being angry” is 生氣 and it was quite a surprise for me to discover that graphically upper part of 氣 “energy/air/anger“ coincides with horizontal elements of 生 “to give birth/to start”.