André Kneib

France, 1952

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André Kneib (b. 1952) is a native of France. In 1975, Kneib began his study of calligraphy with Ung-No Lee, a master Korean calligrapher at the Musée Cernuschi, in Paris. From 1979–1985 he studied at the University of Nanjing with Ding Hao and also at the Central Academy of Fine Arts of Beijing. Today he is associate professor at the National School of Oriental Languages (INALCO), Paris. In 1995, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded him the prize of an artist’s residency at the Villa Kujoyama, Kyoto, Japan. It was during this stay that he was honored with a commission to inscribe his calligraphy on the fusuma, or paper-covered sliding doors, to the sanctuary of the Buddhist temple of Konpoji, near Lake Biwa in Nagahama, Japan.

If there is one constant thread that weaves through the early and later calligraphy of André Kneib, it is an abiding concern for the nuances of semantic meaning and emotional resonances implicit in the individual Chinese characters. For Kneib, the conventional form and lexical meaning of a Chinese character are always the starting point for an aesthetic reflection and play of brush and ink.

Perhaps the single most important contribution that André Kneib makes to the development of modern Chinese calligraphy is the introduction of color as integral to the formal structure and emotional tenor of the written character. In some works, subtle inflections of color serve to accent the highly gestured movements and shapes of the ink brushstrokes. In other works, color forms the very body and flesh of the character as subtle modulations in the saturation and suffusion of hues add a most evocative dimension and depth within the brushstrokes. In doing so, he has defined an entirely new range of truly transcultural formal and expressive issues for contemporary calligraphers and painters inside and outside China to explore.

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