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Arts Show Past, Future

The Second Popular Calligraphy and Sealcutting Competition and Exhibition is under way and will run until January 2 at Beijing's Today Art Gallery.

The event has attracted 15,187 entries from calligraphy amateurs and professionals from people aged between 12 and 93 from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao, as well as fans from Singapore and South Korea.


On display are more than 300 selected works from the hands of contestants, the 14-member judging panel and the 68 artists comprising the event's advisory board, in addition to several renowned Chinese artists upon invitation from the organizers.


First launched last year, the annual event is "aimed at addressing the question of how the Chinese traditional art forms such as calligraphy and sealcutting can adjust themselves to the new century," organizers say.


The art of Chinese calligraphy is widely considered as the nation's cultural "living fossil," which gained its position as an independent art genre with unique oriental flavour in the history of art as early as in the East Han Dynasty (AD 25-220).


Against the backdrop of China's economic reforms and opening up, a revival in traditional art forms, such as calligraphy since the early 1980s, has resulted in widely differing styles and variations in traditional art forms.


Many artists, with an eye to both traditional ideas and techniques, as well as Western concepts and artistic idioms from neighboring countries such as Japan, have tried to create their own popular calligraphy works.


But the experiments have also raised concerns over the integrity and artistic identity of the old art form.


In some ways, the emergence of diverse calligraphic and sealcutting styles over the past two decades reflects people's proactive attitude to the centuries old art forms and their future development, said Zhu Naizheng, art professor with the Central Academy of Fine Arts.


And only when put under focused discussion can Chinese artists find the right approaches to deal with issues related to traditional Chinese forms, he said.


(China Daily December 20, 2003)

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