• C.C. Wang's calligraphy using golden marker on a black cardboard C. C. Wang's frantic, scrawled calligraphy using a silver pen against a black background

    Song brushwork [which is adjusted to compositional or descriptive ends] is like opera singing. Yuan brushwork [which is far more abstract] is like jazz. When you come to jazz, you can’t accept it at the beginning. Opera has more skill, but jazz has more naiveté. Naiveté has to be original. Now my painting has become just like jazz music.


    — C.C.WANG (1907-2003)

  • In celebrating the coming 2022 Lunar New Year, FQM is pleased to open 'New York Rhythms: C. C. Wang's Calligraphy,' the first retrospective to focus on the artist's final two decades of calligraphy practice in New York City. In conjunction with the exhibition, FQM will publish essays by two of C. C. Wang’s former students–artist Arnold Chang and independent scholar Kathleen Yang. The exhibition will open on January 18 and continue through March, 5th, 2022. Fu Qiumeng Fine Art is located on the ground floor, at 65 East 80th Street in Manhattan, New York City. The gallery is currently open by appointment only. 


    The exhibit's 16 pieces, culled from the collections of a small group of Wang's friends and students, represent three significant stages of work. They chart the artist's journey from traditional calligraphy, through an experimental phase, and culminate in an abstract calligraphic period that marks his transformation from a classical Chinese landscape painter to a contemporary artist, working in tune with the 1980s and 1990s creative currents.


    Wang's close association with the Art Students League of New York exposed him to Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Graffiti, and other significant twentieth-century art movements. Initially unmoved by the avant-garde work of fellow students Knox Martin (b. 1923), Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), and Cy Twombly (1928-2011), Wang’s early experiments with Western techniques and methods focused on using crumpled-paper pointillism and tonal washes to explore the effects of texture and chance on naturalistic landscapes. But, in the early 1980s, Wang incorporated a series of changes that revolutionized the relationship between form and meaning, transforming his works into abstract calligraphic expressions and assimilating his classical literati training with his life in New York City.



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  • Homecoming by Tao Yuanming
    My fields and garden will be full of weeds, how can I not go back?
    It was myself who put my mind into bondage, so why go on being sad and lonely?
    I understand that what is already past cannot be rebuked, but know the future's possibilities.

    C.C.Wang (1907-2003), Homecoming (Gui Qu Lai Xi Ci) | Cursive Script, Medium: sponge painting brush with silver pigment on blue construction paper, framed, With four seals of the artist, Size: 37 x 24 3/4 inch (94 x 63 cm)
  • C.C. Wang's abstract calligraphy on a fan, with red seals

    C.C.Wang (1907-2003) Blooming flowers with the Full Moon Running Script Medium: Flat Bristle brush with ink on rice paper, fan leave framed Signed Ji Qian 己千, dated kuihai sanyue 癸亥三月 1983 march Description: Blooming flowers with the full moon, enjoying longivity with auspicious as you desired. Size: 19.5 x 7.5 inch.

    In the earliest of these works, Wang tentatively plays with form and materials. In Blooming Flowers with the Full Moon, he uses a flat bristle brush with ink and maintains a master's control over the poem's running-script brushwork. But he deviates from standard form by carefully stamping his delicately designed seals in the negative spaces between characters and stamping the left end seal over his inscriptions. The result is a sense of depth and recession that may have inspired his later explorations of color and motivated his shift toward abstract calligraphy.  


    ​​By the mid-1990s, Wang began experimenting with a wide range of unconventional materials. In Lan Ting Xu a two-panel cursive-script rendition of "Preface of the Orchid Pavilion," he ‘paints’ with silver felt marker on black construction paper. He created two more 1994 works, Intricate thoughts in Mind, and Azure Dragon, using a flat bristle brush, with black ink, on red cardboard paper, and a sponge painting brush, with silver and gold color, on black construction paper, respectively.

  • Black scrawled calligraphy text on a red background
    C.C.Wang (1907-2003), Intricate Thoughts in Mind Running Script, Medium: Flat bristle brush with black ink on red construction paper, framed, Signed Ji Qian 己千 , dated jiaxu 甲戌 1994 Size:40 x 26 inch., Description: Intricate thoughts in mind, flowing fecundity in prosing.

    1995 marks the watershed when Wang breaks calligraphy's traditional readability as a literary text. He paints Ink and Gold Abstract Calligraphy using a traditional Chinese brush and ink on gold-flecked paper. But, embracing the aphorism that "calligraphy and painting share the same origin," his brushstrokes form abstract rather than legible shapes, and his use of monochromatic shading confounds any attempt to discover literary meaning. In Green Abstract, Wang again uses a traditional Chinese brush with ink on rice paper, but his strokes are free and bold. He reconfigures the structure and composition of the Chinese characters through random and improvisational actions and uses swathes of luminous green and moody gray to incorporate negative space as a compositional element. Finally untethered from millennia of Chinese calligraphy tradition, Wang's abstracted characters bounce across the paper like musical notes.


    According to Wang, the individuality of Chinese brushwork can be considered the equivalent of western color, and he often compared the unique quality of an artist’s bimo (笔墨) or brushstroke, with the distinctive characteristics of musical rhythms.“In jazz music,” said Wang, “you don’t have to know what the singer is singing about. Good brushwork is so beautiful it can make you look at it many times, like a good voice. When you hear singing, do you expect the singing to have a good story? It doesn’t have to.”

  • C. C. Wang's artwork; black rounded calligraphy filled in with turquoise and white on a gray background

    C.C.Wang (1907-2003), Green Abstract, Medium: Chinese brush with ink and color on rice paper, mounted hanging scroll, Signed Wang Ji Qian 王己千, dated Jiazi chuqiu 丙子初秋 the Early spring in 1996, with one artist’s seal. Size: 13 ½ x 26 ¾ inch.

  • In one of the exhibit's later works, New York City White Pages Telephone Book, Wang practices calligraphy on the pages of a discarded New York City telephone book. The calligraphy is readable, including quotes from classical poems and aphorisms memorized in the course of his classical training, but the texts bear little logical relationship to one another and thecompositional arrangements are unconventional. Invoking associations with Neo-Dada, Wang’s characters are carefully painted down individual columns and superimposed across an advertisement's smiling face and a graphic map of the 'New York Metro Regional Calling Area.’ If there is a “story” here, it is best understood in relation to his late sobriquet “Liao ran” (了然), which can be translated as “mature and intuitive.” It is the coming of age story of a diaspora artist, whose modes of communication and representation are at once local and global, and constantly shifting depending on the audience.


    Another late work, Abstract Calligraphy on Telephone Book Collage, perhaps best represents Wang's integration of eastern and western aesthetics and traditional and modern practices. Wang uses a traditional Chinese brush and ink, but his medium is a collage of nine telephone book pages. His brushstrokes are again purely abstract, a mix of light and weighty calligraphic forms that throb across the printed surface. The final effect is a goal shared by eastern and western artists alike; a harmonious balance of line, color, shape, and composition.

  • C.C.Wang (1907-2003), New York City White Pages Telephone Book, Medium: ink and color on Telephone Book, signed Wang Ji Qian 王己千 on the first page, dated Wuyin, bayue 戊寅八月 August 1998. Size: L 10 ¾ x W 19 ½ x H 2
  • Artist C.C. Wang writing calligraphy

    C. C. Wang (1907-2003) numbered among the last generation of artists to receive a traditional literati education. Born into a distinguished family of scholar-officials in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, Wang practiced calligraphy as a child and studied landscape painting under Gu Linshi (1865-1930) and Wu Hufan (1894-1968). After gaining a law degree from Shanghai's Suzhou University, Wang immigrated to New York and attended Art Students League classes between 1950 and 1974. Critics consider Wang's traditional landscapes among the finest works since the seventeenth century. And his later explorations of form, color, and composition broke the boundaries between images and language and representation and abstraction. Wang also figures among the most respected twentieth-century connoisseurs and collectors of classical Chinese calligraphy and painting. He co-founded the Department of Art at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (then New Asia College) in 1957 and became the Art Department Chair in 1962. From the 1970s to the present, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired 78 works from Wang's collection. To honor his outstanding contributions to the field of Chinese art, the museum established the C. C. Wang Family Gallery.

  • About C.C.Wang

  • “The main thing is for an artist to have Naiveté. Being Naiveté doesn’t mean being ignorant, and it doesn’t mean being incapable. Naiveté means natural. If you have the quality of being natural, that’s literati painting.”  C.C.Wang