This week Brighton Journal spoke to Jing Wang, a local artist who specialises in Chinese Brush Painting and Calligraphy. Influenced by the three philosophies of Confucius, Taoism and Buddhism, Jing’s work mainly focuses on Chinese Bird-and-Flower painting. She combines Chinese ancient free style with Modern composition to create her stunning ink art. Jing told Brighton Journal about how her love for calligraphy started in her childhood, her current projects and her hopes for her artwork post-lockdown. Take a look.
I have been working on a new abstract Chinese ink painting on Xuan paper.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
I currently work from home. I set up a painting studio area in a bright corner of our lounge. Although it’s quite small, I have all my Chinese painting materials in one place, and with good light. The good thing about working from home is that I don’t get rushed in to completing a painting in one go. I can go back to finish at any time.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
One of the most thrilling experiences of my art career so far, was when I had the opportunity of presenting the stunning ancient art of Chinese Calligraphy to live audiences during events that took place in London and Brighton. These interactive performances took place in the beautiful Chapel of Mary Queens University and Bloomsbury Gallery, London, where I was excited to collaborate with a talented Guqin artist. I was writing a poem on Xuan paper with brush in “Running” script while a Guqin artist performed a piece of authentic music in front of 200 people. The calligraphy work resonated with the piece of music being played and we both completed our performance at the same time. In ancient time, playing Guqin and writing poems were the must have skills as a literati or a scholar. It was great to be able to bring the unique beauty of ancient art back and to present it to our audiences.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I think a few things led me to become an artist. I fell in love with calligraphy when I was 5 years old watching my dad writing with brush. Now look back, that must have planted an art seed in me as even with a busy life of university, working and moving to UK from China, I always felt I would be an artist one day. But it didn’t happen until I had my son and soon after lost my job around 10 years ago. It was at that time I started to think who I am. It was from the desire to be creative, and the need to express my feelings. Later on, with discovering my inner voice, I wanted to help more people to keep this skillset alive, and to keep my culture going.
What are you currently working on?
There are a few projects I have been working on at the moment. The first one is writing a 2.7m long calligraphy on Xuan paper inspired by Mifu’s “Shusutie”, a master piece of art work. It will be mounted on silk to make a silk scroll art piece. I am so excited about it. I am also working on my summer theme of painting which is all about the lotus flower. Hope those paintings will be displayed in coming art exhibitions in Brighton when everything is back to normal. Another thing is I am planning to do is to get back to running regular calligraphy and ink painting workshops which I did before the lock down.
What are the key themes in your work?
My work is heavily influenced by the 3 philosophies of Confucius, Taoism and Buddhism and attempts to convey these ideas simply through the expression of Chinese Brush painting and Calligraphy. My painting work mainly focuses on Chinese Bird-and-Flower painting. It belongs to the scholar-artist style of Chinese painting. According to Chinese tradition, bird-and-flower painting covers “flowers, birds, fish, and insects”.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
We live in a rather busy and conflicted world with so many troubling things happening around us every day. The simplicity and beauty of a single character, with a world of meaning, that has evolved through the evolution of an ancient pictorial language, can be both calming and profound. I hope that my art can bring this feeling of peace and oneness, and in a small part, contribute to creating a more harmonious society.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I love the smell of the ink on Xuan paper. I think this is from the memory of my childhood seeing my dad write his calligraphy. I really enjoy playing with the ink and the colours. You can create at least 5 different layer colours of grey from the black ink. Lots of Chinese famous paintings were created in black and white with the five layers of grey colours. Ming Dynasty Chen Lu’s “Plum Blossom and the Moonlight” is one of the amazing works. It is 8 meters long all in white and black. I saw the original work in British museum in 2014.
Chinese brushes can hold three or more colours at the same time and you get amazing multi colour with one stoke movement which creates the abstract while keeping the natural colour.
What equipment could you not do without?
Xuan paper, Brush, Chinese ink, stone seals and red ink paste.
Who or what inspires you?
In ancient China, calligraphy is considered one of the four best friends of Chinese literati. In learning the different scripts of Chinese calligraphy, it has brought me to the works of all the ancient literati. Some of them are philosophers as well as calligraphers, so I have started to interpret much of what I see through their philosophies.
My Chinese brush paintings and calligraphy were mainly influenced by Master Mifu, Qi Baishi and Lou Shibai, and I like to paint in Chinese ancient free style with Modern composition.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
I have been mainly painting with Chinese traditional themes which are the nature of flowers, birds and creatures. When I saw Brighton local artists’ works of the sea, the south downs, I am always inspired and I started to think I would one day create paintings for those too, but with my brush and ink.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
I am lucky to live in a city with so many things around I could do. To take a break from painting I like to go down to our local tennis club to play tennis with friends, where I play for our ladies team. On the weekend, I often like to go to the south downs for a long walk with my family.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
I am a member of the British museum. I like to go there from time to time to get inspired. They have some great collection of Chinese art. They did an exhibition “Ming 50 years, that changed China” in 2014. I was lucky to view the amazing 8 meter long scroll of Plum blossom and The Moonlight. It inspired me to create my own brand Plum Blossom Ink Art. Another rare artwork I viewed at the British museum is “The Admonitions Scroll”. It is a Chinese narrative painting on silk painted by Gu Kaizhi (345-406). With simple brush stokes, he painted out life like figures. I also like to visit V&A, Tate Modern and Royal Academy to get inspired.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
Well, there are so many great artists that I admire and would like to collaborate with. If I had to pick one, then I have to say Zhang Daqian. I would like to create some paintings about Brighton with the way he used modern Pomo style to create amazing colours in his work.
What’s your favourite colour?
To find out more about Jing Wang and her work, take a look at her website, Instagram and Facebook: