Some Opinions on Pop Art


PureInsight | February 10, 2003

Part 1: An Elderly Art Teacher

[] I once knew an elderly art teacher who disapproved of the characters in today's comic books. She thought their eyes were large and disproportionate, which made them look unrealistic. She said, "A person with eyes that size walking on the street would most certainly give everyone a heart attack!"

Now that I look at the characters in comic books, I find a striking resemblance between comic book characters and aliens. All the reports from people who claim to have seen aliens so far have mentioned their gigantic eyes!

This art teacher was a student of a famous Chinese painter at the end of the Qing Dynasty. She told us that she used to think there was something wrong with her teacher because he regarded his students as imbeciles for believing that humans think with their brains. His teacher insisted that he thought with his heart instead. She and her fellow apprentices used to laugh at his revolutionary belief, but later she found out that it was no joke but, instead, it was indeed the truth.

Her daughter regarded her opinion highly. Her daughter would seek her approval on every outfit she purchased. My art teacher would tell her daughter that everything she bought was beautiful to avoid hurting her feelings. In fact, she secretly told us that the costume of the modern age was far from beautiful in her eyes.

Part 2: An Elderly Cost Accounting Professor's Regard toward Pop Art Calligraphy

I was a very active member of the Art Society in college where I mastered the art of writing in pop art calligraphy. My talent and skill in pop art calligraphy were known among my classmates, who would sometimes ask for my help in this regard. Once I was asked to write in pop art calligraphy on the transparencies for a group of classmates who would use them for a Cost Accounting class presentation. It came as a shock to both my classmates and I when the Cost Accounting professor said, "I will take one point off on this group's presentation for the hideous writing on the transparencies."

During the break, the entire group was puzzled by the professor's comment. They decided that the teacher was too austere and old-fashioned to appreciate modern art. They also told me not to let his comments bother me.

After I obtained the Fa, I happened to see some of my writings from college and suddenly realized how true the Cost Accounting professor was! The pop art calligraphy is hideous! There is absolutely no sense of beauty in pop art calligraphy. [There are a lot of Chinese characters or radicals of Chinese characters that are shaped like a square, or are composed of a set of squares. Here are some examples:]

Top: Five Chinese characters in their normal forms.
Bottom: The same five characters in pop art calligraphy.

To write in pop art calligraphy, one would expand the size of the square(s) in each Chinese character and round the edges of each square so that each square in the character would end up looking like a ball. To accommodate the expansion of the square(s) in each Chinese character, one would reduce the size of the rest in each character. In hindsight, I had put myself in the mentality of exaggerating things when I constantly wrote in pop art calligraphy. Such a mentality could not be good in shaping a healthy, balanced personality. Writing in the style of so-called chicken scratches with a Chinese brush pen is, in my humble opinion, just as much of a form of degeneration as the pop art calligraphy. The disorder and chaos hidden in both styles of calligraphy also haunt modern society.

There seems to be a similarity between the exaggeration of eyes in comic book characters and the squares in pop art calligraphy. In contrast, the traditional Chinese calligraphy is a lot more artistic and beautiful. Each and every stroke of a character written in the traditional style of calligraphy is aesthetically pleasing.

The structure of each Chinese character is a work of art. The ancient Chinese people had higher moral values. They conducted themselves with righteous spirits, even while doing calligraphy. The modern Chinese people are plagued with degenerated moral values and so they pursue distorted styles of calligraphy, fashion, and painting.

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