Irony, play and compassion

Quickness and wit in calligraphy

ZHU Yunming's 祝允明 (1460-1526) large composition drives forward with a quick rhythm that sends the characters careening before it. Sudden sweeps and turns punctuate the flow, providing moments for playful invention and distortion in form. At several points, characters are elongated with a long sliding stroke that pulls the line forward. These gestures, along with the sculptural turning of characters, causes the lines to twist as on an invisible axis. This is rather like winding a spring and has the effect of energising the internal force perceived in each column of text.

Seen as a whole, the rich, swirling space of forms is an outcome of considerable skill - but it is worn lightly, the litheness in the rhythm denying solemnity, raising a smile even. Metaphorically Zhu's composition can stand for the vigour and confidence in the early maturity of life, or in Nature the energetic moment of late Spring.

  ZHU Yunming 祝允明 (1460-1526)
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
183 x 46 cm
Private Collection