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Yangjiang Group: Subverting Calligraphy

Nowadays, calligraphy seems to have little practical meaning in society. But we are interested in finding out what role calligraphy can still play in society.

Yangjiang Group

Yangjiang Group’s calligraphy practice defies easy categorisation. The collective—founded by Zheng Guogu, Chen Zaiyan, and Sun Qinglin in 2002—is interested in challenging the notion of calligraphy as high culture. They incorporate calligraphy into large-scale installations, photographs, and performances. Their work both subverts and draws on the established rules of the practice.

Calligraphy Peach Blossom Garden (2004), for example, is a temporary garden installation. Calligraphy texts and xuan paper have been transformed into a flowing river underneath a wooden bridge. The scene appears alongside fake peach trees and a wax waterfall. This meditative space subverts traditional methods of presenting calligraphy, reinventing the form through modern materials.

In this video interview, the three founders discuss how and why they started the collective, and their approach towards calligraphy as an art form.

Objects from the M+ Collections featured in this video:

Yangjiang Group. Untitled No.09, 2008. Acrylic on PVC. M+, Hong Kong. © Yangjiang Group
Yangjiang Group. Mouse Ox Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake No.4, 2008. Painting, ink on paper, furniture and single-channel digital video. M+, Hong Kong. © Yangjiang Group
Yangjiang Group. Waterfall, 2003. wax, calligraphy, and metal armature. M+, Hong Kong. © Yangjiang Group
Yangjiang Group. Illiteracy No.1, 2004. ink on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © Yangjiang Group
Yangjiang Group. Calligraphy Peach Blossom Garden, 2004. ink on paper, plastic trees, wooden bridge, massage machine, CCTV, and wax. M+, Hong Kong. © Yangjiang Group
Yangjiang Group. Horse Goat Monkey Rooster Pig Dog No.5, 2008. Ink on paper. M+, Hong Kong. © Yangjiang Group

Video Credits

Produced by M+
Camera: CPAK Studio
Editor: Anafelle Liu
M+ Curatorial Research: Pi Li, Isabella Tam, Ethan Cheng
M+ Video Production: Chris Sullivan, Jaye Yau, Elaine Wong
M+ Transcript and Closed Captions: LW Lam, Ellen Oredsson, Amy Leung

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