Xu Bing, Taipei

I went to the Xu Bing Retrospective in Taipei today, and am very glad that I did. I am sure there is a lot of information on the internet about his works, but I was fascinated all the same.

Many of his works are related to languages. Like his ABC series which is about representing English letters using Chinese characters.

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Then there is the square word calligraphy series, which is about writing each English word in a square. I think the idea is similar to the Korean script, but the Xu Bing version is not as tidy, mainly because that unlike Korean, the number of components of each English word is not fixed. And some square words look quite messy, as there are just too many components (long words). I don’t think it is a very creative series and the idea is not very different from the Chinese letters that tattooists use to con the uninformed. But it is fun, and is not difficult to learn and decipher. And, hey, it is Xu Bing.

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I can see in the photo above “square word” and “Xu Bing”. And in the photo next to it, the first words (from left) are “four poems of W B Yeats, calligraphy by Xu Bing”.

And then there is of course the 天書 series, which needs no introduction. I am not a big fan of his more recent 地書 series, though.


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