Chasing a dream, one stroke at a time

Passionate streaks of Ink: Malik Mazlan, despite being a Malay, picked up Chinese calligraphy and has been practicing it for 6 years now. (PHOTO: Hakim Azmi)

When ‘Chinese calligraphy’ is concerned, most would associate it as an art practised mainly by the Chinese. But RP alumnus Malik Mazlan is out to change that perception.

The 28-year-old is passionate about Chinese calligraphy and has been studying the discipline for the past seven years. He first fell in love with Japanese calligraphy during an exchange programme.

It was in Taiwan where I found out that the very soul of the Japanese calligraphy was actually Chinese calligraphy,” said Malik, who began to further explore this art form, across several countries.

Malik enrolled himself at a university in Taiwan, attended daily Chinese lessons and practised calligraphy during his spare hours. He also attended a year-long art immersion programme in China.

When asked about his challenges, Malik – who graduated with a Diploma in Materials Science in 2013 – said it was just like “learning another language”.

He said: “There are four things that a calligrapher should know – painting, calligraphy, seal carving and poetry. A calligrapher is not considered a matured calligrapher if he doesn’t write his own poetry.”

Renowned calligrapher Yong Cheong Thye, Malik’s teacher, is impressed by his student’s dedication.

Mr Yong said: “His learning ability is very strong and very fast as he is passionate about calligraphy. When he copies a word, he can copy it identically even though he doesn’t understand it.”

To familiarise himself with Chinese characters, Malik uses a mobile application, Pleco.

Malik, who works part-time at Independent Archive, also has plans to take his passion to the next level by localising calligraphy and making it more accessible to Singaporeans.

He said: “I think that possibility is quite high as it has already been done by two major cultures like Japanese and Korean. We have to remember that it took Japan so many thousands of years to develop their own type of calligraphy.”

Malik also plans to conduct Chinese calligraphy lessons next year. “I’m always happy to promote the arts,” he said.