Fête Chinoise 2016: Dinner Party Winter Solstice
Our contemporary culture likes the sleekness of black and the pureness of white. Yet in traditional Chinese culture, white and black are not auspicious colours compared to the likes of red, green, and gold. How can event hosts in 2017 make use of these classic colours of Western society and make it relevant, meaningful, and appropriate for a modern celebration that brings together the East and the West in perfect balance?
Calligraphy is a visual art form that is highly valued in traditional China, and was revered as fine art long before painting was. Words in China were precious and the main currency for literati and people in dominant positions such as high ranking officials. The weight of words matched the distinctive visual form of Chinese characters. More intricate than Roman letters of Western cultures, traditional Chinese words were derived from images of what the words meant, such as the peaks of a mountain represented with three upward strokes with a distinctly tall centre, or the complex feathers and anatomy of a rooster depicted in short and multi-directional strokes of its letterform. Each word is like an image, and artists have taken the liberty and creativity to interpret words into sweeping strokes that sometimes blend into part-calligraphy-part-painting, such as the larger-than-life masterpieces in the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto lobby of Beijing opera singers. In few but strong powerful strokes, the drama and boldness of ink and calligraphy can convey the deepest of meanings, and create a stunning visual pattern.
In the University Room, Melissa Haggerty of Spectacular Spectacular and Lidia Tacconelli of Fiori Floral created a counter culture masterpiece with blacks inspired by lush ink, whites inspired by rice paper, and beautiful jewel tones of rubies and amethyst intertwined with the traditional gold used in a modern context. They translated the space into an ode to calligraphy, bringing together the warmth of brushstrokes and drama of high contrast. Using calligraphy as the heart of inspiration, and adding touches of auspicious jewel tones and gold to balance the design, new meaning can be found in this contemporary approach of tradition and style. It is both fashion and history, cutting edge and timeless all at once.