2 December 2023 - 13 January 2024
Hanart TZ Gallery


Artist’s Reception:    2 December 2023 (Saturday), 2–6 pm
Hanart TZ Gallery:   2/F Mai On Industrial Building, 17-21 Kung Yip Street, Kwai Chung, Hong Kong
Exhibition Period:    2 December 2023 to 13 January 2024

“MODEST MONUMENTS” is the first solo exhibition of Master calligrapher Lu Dadong in Hong Kong. Opening Saturday, 2 December 2023

He is passionate about the classical tradition but refuses to be bound by it.

His range of calligraphy styles is as encyclopedic as his creativity is eclectic.

Visual representations both classical and grassroot find a new harmony in his art

He is the lead singer of his own band. He coaxes, he yells. He calls his rock style “fresh youth agricultural metal”.

He lost 20 kilograms in 6 months and is predisposed to be cheeky.

He is Lu Dadong.

Lu Dadong’s art is driven by rebelliousness and playfulness. For him, inspiration can be found everywhere; daily life is creative life. His tools are borrowed from the history of calligraphy, and his outlook on calligraphic history is turned into text installations. Lu Dadong absorbs the classical tradition, subverts tradition, and re-enters tradition. Through Dadong, calligraphy is being re-made as “contemporary”.

Taoist calligraphy is one of Lu Dadong’s favourite resources. The Taoist’s worship of words is reflected in the diverse forms of magic writing used in rituals. Wang Xizhi and his son Wang Xianzhi (4th CE), revered as Sages of calligraphy, believed in the “Way of the Celestial Master”, and their activities often related closely to Taoism. Their Taoist-inspired calligraphy established the main writing styles for nearly two thousand years, these include the styles of regular script, running script and cursive script.

Looking back at the history of calligraphy, “brushwork” has always been considered the essence of its art. The importance of “structure” and “form”, on the other hand, have largely been overlooked. The great Yuan dynasty master Zhao Mengfu said : “Calligraphy is about the use of the brush: the importance of brushwork has not changed since ancient times. As for the structural form of words, it has changed with the times.” Yet for Lu Dadong, his hobby is playing with the structural form of words. His reasoning is: If calligraphy brushwork never changes, while word forms have been transforming over the generations, then it is the inventiveness of new word forms that tells the changing of times. Besides, apart from the evolving structure of words, Chinese language is also affected by novel textual expression and ephemeral spoken slang. This explains Lu Dadong’s fondness for unconventional sayings and preference for rarely-read classical texts.

Exhibitions satisfy Lu Dadong’s urge for creative experience. The exhibition ground is for him a three-dimensional canvas, a spatial medium that envelopes the calligrapher. Every stroke or pause of the brush creates an exchange of Yin and Yang, the calligrapher must therefore improvise and make instant decisions, while the next moment always remains immediate but unknown. To Lu Dadong, the practice of calligraphy is a display of brushwork, action, and performance. Every movement a calligrapher makes brings alive his accumulated learning and practice, and every expression comes with its own reason and meaning. For Lu Dadong, performing an exhibition is a part of the flow of life.

(The above text is collated from internet writings about the artist, and the reader is welcome to continue with his own patchwork.)

Inscribing on the rockery of Yuan Garden in Suzhou, 2019


“Declaration of Perfected: Lu Dadong Solo Exhibition”, Calligraphy Performance, Beijing, 2021

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