Calligraphy greats on show

The first joint exhibition featuring Chinese calligraphy works by three Cultural Medallion recipients opened at the Singapore Calligraphy Centre on Sunday.

A total of 135 works by the late Pan Shou, the 1986 recipient; the late Wang Sui Pick, the 1992 recipient; and Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore founding president Tan Siah Kwee, who received the medal in 2000, are on show.

The six-week-long event is being held in conjunction with Chinese Calligraphy Society's 45th anniversary celebrations this year.

Tan, 65, who founded the society in 1968, said at the show's opening that he and the late Pan and Wang were the only three Chinese calligraphers to have been awarded the Cultural Medallion to date since the Government launched the annual award in 1979 to recognise artistic excellence among artists in Singapore.

He hoped the show would help promote the art of Chinese calligraphy which his society has been pursuing actively, including opening classes for children as well as senior citizens.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, who officiated at the show's opening, praised the society's efforts in the past four decades. He also noted that even non-Chinese Singaporeans have started learning to write in Chinese with the brush at the society.

That, he believed, would help to promote greater racial integration and understanding among Singaporeans. In fact, several non-Chinese ministers have also learnt calligraphy under the instruction of the society's president, Tan, over the past few years.

They include Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and also former president SR Nathan, who is well known for his artworks, especially at charity events.

"We are grateful for their support and interest, especially the non-Chinese ministers who have given Chinese calligraphy a high profile in recent years," said Tan.

All the calligraphy pieces at the show are from the society and Tan's personal collection.

The 135 works, 45 pieces from each calligrapher, will be rotated through the show due to the limited space at the venue.

A souvenir publication featuring all the works and profiles of the three calligraphers is available at $20.

On the works at the show, Tan said Pan's pieces, mainly in xingshu or running script, were those he wrote between 1979 and 1998. He died in 1999, aged 88.

The late Wang's works were in caoshu or cursive script, which were written between 1985 and 1995. He died in 1998, aged 94.

Tan said all his 45 pieces, in xingshu like Pan's, were written earlier this year.

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