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Chinese Characters on the Streets:
Writing as Visual Culture

Artist: Bai Qianshen
Type: Talk
Language: Mandarin
Audience: Everyone
Location: Online (via Zoom & Bilibili)

Chinese Characters on the Streets:
Writing as Visual Culture

Can writings by ordinary people become part of visual culture? In what ways do shop signs contribute to a city’s cultural landscape? How does technology affect Chinese calligraphy and bring forward creative ideas?

The fourth session of M+’s ‘What is Visual Culture?’ spotlights the contemporary creation and adaptation of Chinese characters. Art historian and calligrapher Bai Qianshen will discuss his research presented in Being on the Shoulders of the Classical Masters and Juanjuan Hairdressing Salon. In addition, he will explore the artistic value and diversity of Chinese characters created by ordinary people today and its shifting dynamics with calligraphy traditions through examples gathered from across Hong Kong and other cities.

This online talk, moderated by M+ De Ying Associate Curator, Visual Art Wu Mo, will be held in Mandarin. Simultaneous interpretation in Cantonese and English will be available. Click on ‘Register’ to sign up and receive the Zoom meeting link via email.

About the Speaker

Bai Qianshen received a doctoral degree in Art History from Yale University. He taught Chinese art history at Boston University from 1997 to 2015. He is currently a professor of art history and Dean of the School of Art and Archaeology at Zhejiang University. Bai is not only a renowned calligraphy historian, but also an accomplished calligrapher. His publications include Fu Shan’s World: The Transformation of Chinese Calligraphy in the Seventeenth Century, Reflections on the Issue of Canonicity in Chinese Calligraphy, and Studies of the Collecting Practice of Government Officials in the Late Qing Period.

Portrait of Bai Qianshen. Courtesy of the speaker

Image at top: Greg Girard. Kowloon Walled City—Tung Tau Tsuen Road facade, 1987. M+, Hong Kong. © Greg Girard

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