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Fung Ming Chip. Resolving the Debate on Shufa

The modernization of Japanese calligraphy began with the end of the war in 1945, while that for shufa (the art of Chinese calligraphy) commenced only in 1985. Various explorations and discussions have taken place within this context for 70 years, but one of the most persistent questions remains: must shufa comprise the written word?

When I began seal carving in 1975, I also copied works of shufa by old masters, on the advice of friends, who told me that it would be helpful for my practice. In 1986 in Taiwan, I explored shufa using non-traditional lines for the first time, which was an intensely gratifying experience. I wondered where the feeling came from, and scoured all the books I could find on the subject to understand why I had this reaction. Not until a decade later did I realize that the development of my calligraphy was not dependant on calligraphic lines but on a wider framework of time. Once I grasped this, my investigation continued scientifically, seeking the infinite possibilities for expanding the tradition of shufa. I have made progress by examining and practising shufa. It’s not theory that motivates my practice, but the conclusion drawn from practice, analysis and deliberation the led me to formulate this theory: shufa is an art of time. 

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