Aesthetic of the Brush

“Calligraphy began with nature. When nature was born, the principles of yin and yang were established. When yin and yang were established forms and momentum emerged.”
Attributed to Cai Yong (132-192 C.E.)

The fluid effect of ink and brush is a ubiquitous feature of Chinese art and a direct result of calligraphy’s paramount importance in society. Skilful writing was not a mere demonstration of literacy, but also proclaimed the writer’s social status and cultural fluency. As a creative tool, the brush has tremendous expressive potential, and its use endows an object with a feeling of movement and spontaneity. The brush aesthetic is also tenacious; its visual qualities are apparent even if the brush is not used in the creation of the object. Ultimately the pervasiveness of the brush aesthetic is an expression of the strength of traditional elite culture and power.