A calligrapher by force of habit

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 May, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 May, 1993, 12:00am

ALTHOUGH calligrapher Chow Cheung-fut cannot remember exactly when it happened, he holds on dearly to the vivid memory of his initiation into an art he has spent most of his life perfecting.

His mother had showed him a piece of calligraphy and told him that if other people could produce such beautiful work, so could he.

''She sat down beside me and forced me to copy out a page from a newspaper. At first I didn't want to but she hit me and forced me to do it,'' he recalls, fondly and without a hint of bitterness.

He started copying manuscripts with a passion while his mother patiently ground the ink cake. Their hard work paid off, as he came top of the class and won school prizes for calligraphy.

Mr Chow is presently staging his first one-man exhibition of calligraphy and Chinese paintings at the Joint Gallery in Central.

There are more than 70 works in the exhibition but the number has grown daily: ''People keep asking me to give them demonstrations, so every day I end up adding more items to the show,'' he said.

Different styles of Chinese calligraphy are represented, including the regular formal style, and the more spectacular running script. Although Mr Chow practises many forms of calligraphy, he is a staunch believer that it is essential to master the formalstyle first: ''You must have good foundations,'' he said.

According to Mr Chow - who lived for much of his early life on the mainland and once taught in Guangdong - the sign of good calligraphy is the expression of feeling. He believes it should be possible to understand something of the writer, of his thoughtsand feelings, through the characters.

Last year he paid off an old debt; he published a picture book - ''dedicated to the memory of my mother''.