This exhibition was originally scheduled to be on view through June 7, 2020, but closed early on Sunday, March 15, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the Bartels Gallery, Floor 1L
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):
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)
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 was the 2020 Wong Chai Lok Calligraphy Fellow at Cornell. Watch the installation of Immortal at the River, courtesy of the East Asa Program at Cornell University.
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, publication, and programs are made possible by major funding from the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Ministry of Culture, 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.