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Tong Yang-Tze: Immortal at the River

  • Date:2020-01-25

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University’s upcoming exhibition “Tong Yang-Tze: Immortal at the River” that opens on February 1, 2020 will feature Taiwanese contemporary calligrapher Tong Yang-Tze.

Immortal at the River references the title of 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). The poem is the subject of a 54-meter-long cursive-script calligraphy of the same name (2003, ink on paper) by Tong Yang-Tze (Grace Tong, born 1942), one of Taiwan’s foremost calligraphers working today. At the Johnson, the monumental scroll circles the perimeter of the Bartels Gallery to provide viewers with an immersive experience of bold and vigorous ink brushwork.

Over a long career spanning four decades, Tong Yang-Tze has received critical acclaim for her large-scale, unrestrained cursive script, and her works have been exhibited in more than sixty exhibitions across the globe. She 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 will be presented as part of Locally Grown Dance 2020 (March 5–7 in the Kiplinger Theatre at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts), and related student dance performances will be held at the Johnson (to be announced).

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.

Tong Yang-Tze: Immortal at the River (董陽孜《臨江仙》書法展)
February 1, 2020 - June 7, 2020
Bartels Gallery, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, GM 06 Goldwin Smith Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
Admission: Free