The project

The challenging aim of WRITE Project is to investigate how the emergence of new forms of calligraphy in contemporary China has been playing a pivotal role in the re-definition of Chinese cultural identity.

Why Contemporary Calligraphy?

Calligraphy has always been the “chief of all Chinese arts” and a central tenet of Chinese civilisation.
Today calligraphy is still extremely pervasive in Chinese society and, in recent years, lots of new forms of calligraphy have emerged (in all fields of visual and performing arts) as it has never happened before.

The central core of WRITE Project is the first systematic analysis of all these new art forms. Creating the first artworks dataset of these new forms of calligraphy and using a media-based categorization, WRITE will investigate the emergence of these new forms of calligraphy in:

Fine and contemporary arts

New forms of calligraphy emerged in the domain of “fine arts” (painting-like calligraphy, abstract painting, printmaking, seal carving and sculpture) and “contemporary arts” (assemblage, collage, mixed-media, conceptual art, installation, photography, digital art, video-art and land-art).

For the first time Chinese characters lost their connection with the linguistic meaning evolving into desired design elements.

Decorative art, applied art and architecture

Performing arts

The intrinsic calligraphic qualities of rhythm, dynamism and harmony flow into the fields of performance art, contemporary dance and music.

The presence of calligraphy along the streets has evolved from the Maoist propaganda posters into graffiti works made for the first time not of Latin letters but of Chinese characters.

Graffiti art

Using a multi-disciplinary approach, WRITE will analyse how these new forms have been transforming not only the creative practice of contemporary artists but also the language about calligraphy and art, reflecting new socio-political and economic orders:

Because the contents of calligraphies are written texts, the analysis of the linguistic contents of the selected artworks is an important aspect of the investigation, together with the analysis of new critical discourses on calligraphy emerged to describe these new art forms.

WRITE Project also explores socio-political aspects related to these new forms, such as their public reception, their interaction with Euro-American art, and the cultural politics of the Chinese government connected to their diffusion. WRITE will also investigate the use of calligraphy for commercial purposes.

WRITE Objectives:


Create the first artworks dataset representing all new Chinese calligraphic forms


Propose a new taxonomy of the artistic production


Propose a systematic study on the language about these new forms of calligraphy


Develop a novel methodology that, analysing calligraphic artworks, mirrors the cultural changes of contemporary China