Confucius said, “Is it not delightful to have friends coming from afar?” It was in the spirit of friendship that Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) hosted the 2016 Malaysia-Indonesia Calligraphy Exhibition from March 19 till 27 at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM (WKSGM). For this exhibition, over 100 calligraphic works of Malaysian and Indonesian calligraphers were on display. Working with SGM were the Calligraphic Society of Malaysia, Calligraphy and Art Association of Indonesia and Malaysia Stone Lovers Society. Also on display were stone works curated by the Stone Lovers Society.
The art of calligraphy is seen as the epitome of Chinese culture. Over several thousand years, calligraphy, with its artistic charm, has developed beyond its practical usage and become an important medium for international art exchanges. The art of Chinese calligraphy came to Southeast Asia with Chinese migration. In some Southeast Asian countries, calligraphic associations were established to preserve and promote Chinese calligraphic art in their respective countries and have achieved impressive outcomes.
This exhibition is the result of a 10-year friendship between the Calligraphy Society of Malaysia and the Calligraphy and Art Association of Indonesia. Their first joint exhibition was held two years ago in Indonesia.
Opening the exhibition on March 19 was Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Malaysia HE Herman Prayitno. Also present were Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, former Minister of Transport; Wong Ho, president of the Calligraphy Society of Malaysia; Sri Puspadewi Tafianoto, chairperson of the Calligraphy and Art Society of Indonesia; Dato’ Seri Kee Yong Wee, the organising chairman of this exhibition; Chok Shaw Chyi, Malaysia Stone Lovers Society president; Malaysian and Indonesian calligraphers whose works were exhibited; artists and members of the public.
In his welcoming speech, SGM President Michael Kok used the Confucius quote mentioned above to welcome all to the exhibition. He paid tribute to the enduring friendship between SGM and the Calligraphic Society of Malaysia that has lasted for almost 15 years and seen much collaboration. Quoting SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and George Bernard Shaw, he said art plays a crucial role in realising world peace and make the world a better place.
Wong Ho said that calligraphy brings out beauty of motion and images, and helps strengthen friendship between people, across all borders. Calligraphy also helps an artist express one’s inner thoughts and rich emotion.
Mdm Puspadewi of the Calligraphy and Art Association of Indonesia expressed her appreciation at this opportunity to showcase works by Indonesian calligraphers. She remarked that appreciation of Chinese art and culture is increasing in Indonesia, and thus Chinese calligraphy too is gaining popularity. Calligraphy is also an important cultural heritage for ethnic Chinese in her country. She hopes that there will be more cooperation between Malaysian and Indonesian artists in the future.
In his speech, HE Herman Prayinto said that this is his first visit to WKSGM and commended the organisers of the exhibition for coming together to put up the quality works on display. Culture and art represent the thoughts, feelings and creativity of people as well as their national traditions and characteristics. This exhibition will help foster closer ties between the citizens of our two countries. He remarked that calligraphy allows the discovery the poetic beauty of language and allows even those who are not fluent in the language to appreciate the beauty of the art form which can be graceful, mysterious, bold and exuberant.
Following the speeches, a new art album was launched, and an exchange of souvenirs took place. Several calligraphers also presented their works to SGM to be part of SGM’s collection.
Later, a talk titled “The Contemporary Style of Calligraphy” was held at the International Conference Hall. This talk was delivered by Prof Li Hungcheng, chairman of the Chung Hua Hongdao Calligraphy Association, and chaired by Sik Koon Nyih, Public Relations Officer of The Calligraphy Society of Malaysia. Calligraphers whose works are displayed in the exhibition then held a live calligraphy demonstration at the exhibition hall.