Dawo Art in 30 Years
Dr. Xia Kejun, Philosopher
This exhibition pays tribute to Mr. Zhang Dawo, a seventy-year-old artist living in China/Australia, for being the most enduring, the most representative and the most accomplished master in the search of contemporary calligraphic art and writing, in present China. Throughout his thirty years of practice, he makes important contributions in the conversion of ink writing from traditional to modern art. This exhibition presents the entire evolution of Dawo’s artistic pathway.
Based on ink strokes, Dawo’s work releases calligraphic art from its traditional boundaries. In the early stage in the 1980s, he tried to trace the origin of Chinese hieroglyphic characters without being confined to the shape or meaning of existing characters. By doing so, he enriched the pictographs and innovated the lyrical texture of the calligraphy.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Mr. Zhang settled in Australia and began his unique creation of 'Dawo Miaomo' (Chinese ink art). By virtue of his fathomless imagination, he used the concentrated ink foam to spurt out the lifeless ink into forceful images, which though abstract, still allude to nature’s illusions, as if like a dragon or clouds. His works seem to be syncopated music, like the dance of nature, awakening the willpower long concealed in Chinese civilization. His brush strokes go through the mirror of tradition to reflect the contemporary world and boundless vitality.
After 2000, Dawo adopted a new style – 'Tushouxian' (barehanded lines), which allows the lines of Chinese ink to be independent and self-assured, while preserving the “flying white” (space) which features in traditional calligraphy. The images are as if shooting from the ground, or falling from the skies. The strength and flexibility lying in the strokes take us right through the ancient and modern times of Chinese culture as well as humanity and nature.
The latest series 'Shengming Xuanxian‘ (life archeline) departs totally from the abstract defined in Western paintings. It expresses life’s energetic essence in nature and thus deviates from the common trend of abstract painting. ‘The suppleness of the brush gives birth to the magic of ink art.’ Giving birth to his brush, the ‘wild lines’ interact and intermingle with the “flying space” . Dawo presents here his signature rhythm, like the sound of heaven.
Dawo’s ink lines have overcome the notion that there is no true line in nature. Nature may not have true geometrical lines, but lines of growth are ubiquitous. The cursive lines that Dawo uses are laden with natural elements, in harmony with the natural pace, showing its soft and free growing force.
Dawo’s works can be regarded as an example of how traditional calligraphy metamorphoses to contemporary art. His works, inspired by calligraphy, heading for modern writing art, reaching the essence of nature, can be an inspirational source for us to conceive another modernity of Art.