- Also known as
Zhang Dawo 張大我
primary name: Zhang Dawo
- individual; scribe/calligrapher; Avant-Garde; Chinese; Male
- Life dates
- Calligrapher; born in 1943 in a cultured family. He moved with his father, an English teacher, to Tianjin, where he took private lessons in calligraphy with the city's two most distinguished practitioners, Li Henian and Wu Yuru. In 1963, shortly after graduating from high school, he volunteered to leave Beijing to begin a new life as a teacher in the virgin lands that were being opened up in north-eastern China. During the Cultural Revolution, he was barred from teaching and imprisoned by the local Red Guards. After eighteen months of imprisonment, Zhang was released and assigned to manual labour. Only in 1979 were he and his family granted permission to return home to Beijing, where he was lucky enough to find a job teaching calligraphy at one of Beijing's leading secondary schools. Soon he was assigned to teach calligraphy and literature at the Capital University in Beijing. Since 1992, he has lived part of the year in Tasmania, Australia, and part in Beijing. His time in Tasmania has served to remind him of the charm and strength of the abstract lines that are to be found in nature. Once there, he began to experiment with denser ink, sometimes enriched with colour, and to use a fast-moving brush in order to create an impression of flight. Towards the end of the 1990s his works had become progressively more abstract, developing a new form of Oriental abstract expressionism which aims to reflect a spirit that is both traditional and contemporary, Oriental and Western, and deeply reminiscent of both the natural and the man-made worlds. The artist describes this style as "Dawo Black in White Miaomo". Zhang Dawo has also been fascinated by the 'tranquillity' that can be conveyed by the use of solid black in various forms. This idea has led him to produce a number of huge works, some as much as sixteen metres wide. Whether 'miaomo' or solid black, Zhang Dawo's abstract works are unquestionably Chinese in feel, though their freshness and dynamism strike a cord with many Westerners.
- Gordon S. Barrass, 'The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China' (BMP, London 2002)