Founded 2002, Yangjiang, Guangdong (Zheng Guogu, b. 1970; Chen Zaiyan, b. 1971; Sun Qinglin, b. 1974)

The Yangjiang group are fans of calligraphy, but they believe it is being stultified by literary types who resist change. The three friends want to haul calligraphy into the streets—and the bars, where they like to drink and plot their next assault on calligraphic snobbery. Works like Northern Song Dynasty Calligraphy—‘Flowers’ Fragrance’ by Huang Tingjuan (2012) may be scrawled on huge canvases in house paint, but they have a serious intent. The artists believe the simplified character set imposed by the Communist revolutionaries has robbed written Chinese of its beauty and nuance. By making calligraphy contemporary and accessible, they are reconnecting ordinary people to their roots via the language that unites the Chinese nation. The poem dates to the 11th century and reads in part, “The flowers’ fragrance makes even an old man break off from meditation. Poetic thoughts come in spring …”

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