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Wei Ligang, born in Datong, Shanxi in 1964, has long been at the forefront of contemporary ink painting’s development on the Chinese mainland. His journey to calligraphy began early, but was for a time overshadowed by his aptitude for mathematics which he taught for some years. The math/calligraphy nexus is unusual but shows a number of characteristics in common as they are both fundamentally systems of communicating abstract ideas and relationships.
Wei Ligang is a calligrapher whose works are characterized by elegance and fluid thinking. He is an active and outspoken promoter of modernist calligraphy’s relevance to contemporary China and indeed as an international art attracting a worldwide audience.
In 1999, he helped organize a pioneering exhibit in Sichuan province called “Bashu Parade: ’99 Chengdu Retrospective of Chinese Modern Calligraphy at the End of the 20th Century.” The exhibition and accompanying symposium brought together contemporary calligraphers and over 400 works in a showcase that was both retrospective and forward-looking.
However the emphatic Chineseness of Wei’s work, that springs in part from the desire to resist the overwhelming influence of western art, derives principally from his concern to evoke echoes of the past by de-constructing and re-configuring ancient scripts while still alluding to them with his versatile brush work. In short his achievement is to have been able to effect a magical transformation of a historical tradition with a continuous intellectual life of more than 3500 years.