Minsheng Workshop: Everyone is a Qi Baishi


Minsheng Workshop



Chen Siyuan

Tutor: Chen Siyuan
Date: Saturday. December 7, 2019
Time: 15:45—16:45
24 Participants at most
Free of charge
Venue: Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum 2F

“With a writing brush at hand, and an active creative mind, you can be a ‘Qi Baishi’ yourself.”

Yang Jiechang's large-scale solo exhibition 3 Souls 7 Spirits is open to public on November 7th, 2019 and run until February 9th, 2020. As title of Yang's solo exhibition and as calligraphy, it hints to two fundamental elements in his oeuvre: the use of the calligraphic brush and the emphasis on spiritual values, which he appreciates for their universality.

Among the diverse artistic practice of Yang Changjie, the curator Martina Koeppel-Yang chose to focus on his calligraphy works. In 10 exhibition halls, the exhibition presents 30 years’ works of Yang, which discuss about life and death, self-sublimation, incomplete beauty, memory, pose, right, and harmony.
As a kid, Yang Jiechang was educated by his grandfather, who passed the traditional Chinese culture on him. Yang learned to write with a writing brush, and absorbed the traditional Chinse literati culture. Perhaps this is the reason why he has always been calling himself a Shi (meaning a literati). Yang Jiechang admires the traditional literati class, regarding them as “the literate, artists, the pillar of our ethnic group”. He interprets the Chinese character “士”(Shi) into two parts: one (一) and ten (十). Shi stands for from one to ten, from nothing to everything, and vice versa. Shi is the greatest ethnic group in Chinese culture, a vital part of our intangible heritage.

“Everyone is a Qi Baishi” (2017-2019) is an educational program conducted by Yang Jiechang in the past few years. It is inspired by Yang’s personal experience. In this program, Yang Jiechang and Zeng Yongtao drew several copies of “Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden” for participating kids to draw on. The exhibition presents the artifacts in the way a classroom does. The participants are invited to pick one of the copies to draw from. The copies drawn by the participants will be selected and hang on the wall, becoming a part of the artifact.

This program is open to everyone, whether with drawing skills or not. In this classroom, the participants can learn the basic skills of using a writing brush from the “Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden”. Firstly, one should calm his soul through grinding ink. With ink dark enough, one may try out the contrast in strokes painted with different strength. Painting with a writing brush is like writing personal experience, knowledge, mind, and soul onto the paper. After finishing painting, clean the brush as cleaning ones’ feathers.
Slide to see more photos

Writing brush is an indispensable tool in Chinese calligraphy. Using an amusing method to educate participants about it is a most direct, natural way to connect them with their own culture. Yang Changjie hopes to promote the literati’s emphasis on meaning over the form. By focusing more on spiritual rather than material world, the literati style suggests us to preserve for ourselves in this tempting world, to take good care of ourselves as well as to get well with the nature.


Chen Siyuan

Chen Siyuan graduated from Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University in 2008, and obtained his master degree at Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. He has been a researcher of China Art Foundation since 2011, involving in exhibitions and researching projects of Xu Gu, Zhao Zhiqian, Wu Changshuo, and Huang Binhong. He authored Modern Ink: the art of Xu Gu (University of Hawaii Press. 2015) and has been in exhibitions in China, France, Sweden, Japan, and South Korea.