Asian and European Cultures Meet: François Cheng's Energy as a Chinese-French Artist
François Cheng's worldwide renommée is based on the polyphonic character of his oeuvre. He was born in the South of China (1929). Due to his father's mental horizon as an ambassador at United Nations, and his mother's South-Chinese philosophic background, Cheng has been aroused in Taoist mindset. Since the family used to travel a lot in Europe, Cheng junior got to know European cultures on the spot, and was educated by the books and images that had been brought to China by family members, who came to visit Parisian museums. François Cheng studied art in his country and in France. He lives in France ever since. In both his calligraphies and his narrative oeuvre, François Cheng combines the expressive richness of the French language with his Taoist background, by applying the three main principles of Taoist philosophy. From his scope, all artistic disciplines are one. The artist's basic task is, Cheng repeats it often, to try to understand the nature of mankind. Cheng realizes this adventures by means of 'dialogue'. Besides uncountable essays, François Cheng's literary work consists of two novels. Their structure being apparently quite simple, their importance is phenomenal. Readers are aware, that protagonists' will to live is severely hurt by unbearable social and religious conventions. However, their search of identity is kept alive by their Taoist attitude. Their Taoist spirit helps others to find their own identity. François Cheng himself feels deeply impressed by the mental support from Western artists, such as: Henry Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Dostoevsky, Fra Filipo Lippi, Dante Alighieri, and Rembrandt van Rijn. He treats them as models in his narrative and pictorial creation. My workshop will illustrate, that François Cheng, literally, dis-covers men's desiring, and that his creative work represents a human and humanistic meeting point of Western and Eastern cultures.
Keywords: Taoist, Calligraphy, French, Chinese
Ms, Dr. Laetitia Van den Heuvel
Researcher of sociology, teacher of Francophone language and cultures, Faculty of Arts, Tilburg University