Current Exhibition

Opened
February 1, 2020
Closes
August 2, 2020
Location
In the Bartels Gallery, Floor 1L

While our physical doors are temporarily closed to visitors, we're extending our “virtual” doors on our current exhibitions.

Over a long career spanning four decades, Tong Yang-Tze has received critical acclaim for her large-scale, unrestrained cursive script. The subject of this 54-meter long calligraphic work is Immortal at the River, the poem by Yang Shen (1488–1559) that forms the preface to the standard edition of the Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (San guo yan yi):

滾滾長江東逝水,浪花淘盡英雄;
是非成敗轉頭空,青山依舊在,幾度夕陽紅。

白髮漁樵江渚上,慣看秋月春風;
一壺濁酒喜相逢,古今多少事,都付笑談中。

On and on the Great River rolls, bending east away.
Of proud and gallant heroes its white-tops leave no trace,
As right and wrong, pride and fall turn all at once unreal.
Yet ever the green hills stay
To blaze in the west-waning day.
Fishers and woodsmen comb the river isles.
White-crowned, they’ve seen enough of spring and autumn tide
To make good company over the wine jar,
Where many a famed event
Provides their merriment.

(Translated by Moss Roberts)

Click through the slideshow below to read the lines of poetry alongside the calligraphy, and watch a video of the continuous scroll here (courtesy of the Cornell East Asia Program).

Tong began her study of calligraphy at the age of eight with the practice of copying ink rubbings from ancient stone inscriptions. Recognized early on for her exceptional talent, she earned a degree in fine arts from National Taiwan Normal University, and then pursued further visual art study in the United States. After returning to Taiwan, her experimental approach fused Western theories of painting with the traditional lines and brushstrokes that form the foundation of Chinese calligraphy. In recent years, the artist has promoted the ancient art of Chinese script in experimental ways that cross disciplines of design, visual art, digital media, and performance to resonate in the modern world.

Tong Yang-Tze is the 2020 Wong Chai Lok Calligraphy Fellow at Cornell. A performance of one of her crossover works was presented as part of Locally Grown Dance 2020, and a related student dance performance was held at the Johnson, both choreographed by Jumay Chu, senior lecturer in the College of Arts & Science's Department of Performing and Media Arts.

This exhibition was curated by An-yi Pan, associate professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies, and Ellen Avril, chief curator and curator of Asian art at the Johnson. The exhibition, forthcoming publication, and programs are made possible by major funding from the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) and a gift endowed in memory of Elizabeth Miller Francis ’47. Additional support is provided by the Wong Chai Lok Calligraphy Fund, Cornell Council for the Arts, East Asia Program, Department of Media and Performing Arts, and the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.