Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Exploring the Special Orientation Systems in the Chinese Calligraphy of a Taiwanese Artist Who Is Adventitiously Blind

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Exploring the Special Orientation Systems in the Chinese Calligraphy of a Taiwanese Artist Who Is Adventitiously Blind

Article excerpt

Tsann-Cherng Liaw is a Taiwanese Chinese calligrapher who was born in 1950 and lost his eyesight at the age of 42 from glaucoma. Becoming totally blind did not dampen Liaw's interest in Chinese calligraphy but, rather, encouraged him to channel his talents in ways that led to the creation of a new Chinese calligraphic style. In the three personal exhibitions that Liaw has held since 2000, he has sold more than 20 of the masterpieces that he made after he lost his sight.

In recent years, Liaw's work has received wide acclaim from Chinese calligraphic artists and collectors, both in Taiwan and overseas.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY ORIENTATION SYSTEM

Liaw's unique, nonsighted Chinese calligraphy is comprised of three steps. First, Liaw arranges his calligraphic tools in fixed positions to familiarize himself with the working space and to calm his nerves. Then, he uses his palms as the base from which to measure the size of the paper and confirm the mental composition of the work to be created, and strategically places paperweights on the paper to serve as orientation points (see Figure 1). Next, Liaw has developed a special way to grip his Chinese calligraphy brushes that enables him to shorten the bristles' distance from the paper and, thereby, write more steadily (see Figure 2). This unique way of gripping the Chinese calligraphy brush allows him to use his tactile perception to confirm the amount of ink on the pen and, simultaneously, to control the movement and direction of the bristles as he paints. After arranging his mental working space, Liaw then carefully sketches the images in his mind onto the paper by comparing each stroke with the one preceding it. …

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