Heaven, Earth, and Man in Harmony: Chinese Art Appreciation and Spirituality

by Fr. Joseph Tham

This presentation will look at the history, techniques and philosophy behind Chinese ink painting (traditionally called 國畫) and seal carving (篆刻). To appreciate these Chinese arts, one must see their relationship with calligraphy and poetry. Chinese painting has a long history of expressing nature by the
literati, more as an expression of the human spirit and less for decorative purposes. That is why many of them are rolled up in scrolls, not for public display. How Western impressionist movement derived from this tradition will be mentioned. Seal carving is also an ancient art form originally meant to record and authenticate. It is closely related to the evolution of the Chinese language and calligraphic fonts, and opens up a space to explore the relationship between the Chinese literature, religious sayings and traditional proverbs with Christian spirituality.
Fr. Joseph Tham was born in Hong Kong. He started learning Chinese ink painting at the age of 12 under the guidance of Prof. LAU Tai Po on bamboo painting techniques. At the age of 15, he moved to Canada and studied under Prof. CHUNG Ping Kwong the tradition of the Ling Nan School of painting. He also studied Chinese calligraphy and seal carving while in Canada. His work has been exhibited in Canada, USA, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Italy. Fr. Joseph later entered the seminary and after ordination is now teaching bioethics in Rome, Italy. He continues to do calligraphy, Chinese paintings and seal carving in his free time.