Eighty-six-year-old celebrated calligrapher Wang Chung-tien (王中天), who stars in an inspirational documentary Go Grandriders (不老騎士), recently held his debut calligraphy exhibition at a police station in Greater Taichung that aims at spreading the spirit of “live and learn” to the younger generation.
“Although this generation of Taiwanese is born into a difficult time, as long as they adopt the same spirit of ‘nobody is too old to learn’ as I have done, nothing in their life is impossible,” said Wang, who left Taiwan for South Korea on Sunday to take part in this year’s Pusan International Film Festival (BIFF).
The 90-minute film, which is featured in the respected annual film festival, is based on the true story of 17 senior riders — with an average age of 81 — who embarked on a 1,178km motorcycle trip across the country five years ago with a conviction that “it’s never too old to dream.”
Wang, who only started dabbling in calligraphy in the age of 70, made a name for himself after he developed a calligraphy brush method called “duck mouth.”
“At that time, I finally had some time to myself after all my children were grown up. I then started learning the basics of chirography, studying and becoming adept at the various styles of many celebrated calligraphers. Eventually, I developed a style of my own,” he said.
Saying his students ranged in age from teens to those in their eighties, Wang expressed concerns that there may be a breakdown in the passing down of his calligraphy style to the younger generation.
“Learning calligraphy is an experience of life philosophy. To ride out the sluggish economy, young people should endeavor to learn something that has been neglected and seek to cultivate a second skill,” Wang said.
Despite his fame, Wang said he has adopted a “three noes” policy — no selling of his works, no competition with others, and no exhibitions until after the age of 100 — adding that he only agreed to put 24 of his works on display at the art gallery of Taichung City Government Police Department’s Wurih Precinct after receiving a warm invitation from his acquaintances.
“I used to be some random, ordinary old man,” Wang said. “Thanks to the cross-country journey, I not only have met many good friends, but also am able to see the world now,” he said, taking pride in the nomination of his first movie for an award in the Wide Angle Documentary Competition at the 17th BIFF.
Describing Taiwan as a remarkable country of which he is truly proud, Wang said he would showcase the gorgeous scenery of the nation and his “never-too-old” spirit in the international arena.