Calligraphy Animation: Besotted by Flower Vapors,Period 2022/09/27 to 2022/12/25,Northern Branch Gallery 102


     Members of the literati during the Song dynasty favored refinement. They often wrote poems, sang, or presented flowers as demonstrations of affection to one another.

     The film employs live film and multimedia to depict the work's contextual meaning, leading audiences to understand the flower exchange custom practiced by the literati and guiding them into the calligraphist's spirit.

Besotted by Flower Vapors

Huang Tingjian (1045 -1105), Song dynasty
Album leaf, ink on paper, 30.7 x 43.2 cm

     Huang Tingjian, courtesy name Luzih, sobriquet Daoist of the Valley, is a renowned Northern Song poet and calligraphist. In 1087, Huang mailed two poems to his friend, Wang Gong, who was residing in Yangzhou. The first poem reads: "Wang Shen keeps sending me poems for a response. I do not feel like composing. That rascal now pressures me with flowers. So I jest."

     The following poem is the original text of "Besotted by Flower Vapors," in which Huang uses alludes to his unpleasant predicament of being impounded by Wang's flowers. Around 1100, Huang Tingjian retranscribed the second poem onto this scroll, which is in the National Palace Museum's collection.

     This scroll was written freehand in firm brushwork. The ink varies from moist to dry, dark to light. Though predominantly in cursive script, it still contains semi-cursive script styles. Each character is discrete, the beginning and ending for each stroke softened and contained. Though a mere 5-line poem, the spacing of brushwork is beautifully cadenced. The color of the ink transitions from dark to light, with just enough variation to make it a superlative piece.

Translation: The fragrance of flowers is so intoxicating that it threatens to disrupt my Zen meditation. My heart and spirit are actually well past middle age. Spring comes, and I should have been inspired to compose poems. But why does my motivation run like a boat struggling upstream against the rapid water in Bā Jié Tān?