Hua Rende and the Phoenix

Hua Rende 华人德

January 21, 2005

Donald H. Sheehan Gallery, Whitman College


In the spring of 2005, I had the opportunity to invite Hua Rende to come to Whitman College to teach courses in the history of Chinese calligraphy and this history of the Chinese garden.  While he was here, I curated an exhibition titled “Reflections on Forgotten Surfaces: The Calligraphy of Hua Rende” at the Donald H. Sheehan Gallery at Whitman College. This is a photograph I took of Hua Rende on the night of the opening.  He is standing next to a piece titled “A Phoenix Comes to Visit.” The rubbing is from the wall of an Eastern Han dynasty stone. Above the rubbing Hua Rende has calligraphed this Zhou dynasty song:
          The phoenix flies to my purple courtyard.
          What virtue do I have to attract this holy bird?
          It is due to my ancestors' grace.
          All the people are living in happiness and peace.
          All of the animals dance in excitement.

Other photographs from the opening as well as delightful commentary (all in Chinese!) can be found here.

I published a fine exhibition catalogue also titled Reflections on Forgotten Surfaces: The Calligraphy of Hua Rende, with essays contributed by the scholar and calligrapher Bai Qianshen and Hua Rende.  I still have copies of this catalogue if you are interested!

Here's the link to my essay from that catalogue titled, “The Way Can Be Found in Bricks and Shards: Juxtapositions of Image, Text, and Calligraphic Style in the Work of Hua Rende.