Simple and Honest in Personality, Sincere and Diligent in Career

By Kevin Nie, China IP,[Comprehensive Reports]

Among famous calligraphers and painters of capital Beijing, the three brothers of Cheng’s family, Cheng Maoren, Cheng Maoyu and Cheng Maoquan, are known to all. And among the three brothers, Cheng Maoquan’s life experiences have been relished by many in the art circle. The Hongbao Hall, which he has been running for more than ten years, has long been one of the places where men of letters love to visit most, as well as a place of interest that all amateurs of art from all over the world would choose to visit when they come to Beijing.
In the interview with Mr. Cheng Maoquan, reporters from China IP admired from the bottom of their hearts his profound understanding of the essence of Chinese calligraphy and his erudite accumulation of knowledge.
Virtue Is the Foundation of Life
Cheng Maoquan was born in a family with a tradition in calligraphy and painting. He learned painting from his father, Mr. Cheng Junliang—a famous painter of Chinese flower and bird painting in “hidden bone” style, in his childhood.
His abecedarian in calligraphy was Mr. Huang Gaohan. When he was twelve years old, he became a student of Mr. Zheng Songxian, a famous modern Chinese master of cursive style calligraphy. Then he practiced all kinds of styles of calligraphy including Yan Zhenqing style, Liu Gongquan style, Chu Suiliang style, Ouyang Xun style and other classic styles from both north and east of China, among which he mainly practiced the cursive style. Later on, he learned from other masters of calligraphy including Mr. Qi Gong, Mr. Xiao Lao, Mr. Shen Peng and Mr. Liu Bingsen. Since 1988, he has become a formal student of Mr. Ouyang Zhongshi, one of the most famous calligraphers in China. His calligraphy has made great progress under the guidance of Mr. Ouyang. In the eyes of peer calligraphers, his works are solemn and dignified with the charm of ancient tradition.
In the interview with Mr Cheng Maoquan, he told us that Mr Zheng Songxian not only taught him calligraphy, but also gave him a style name of “Chun Yi.” “A man should be independent. The key to learning is reflection. There is no difference between different occupations. Only virtue has a hierarchy.” The poem given to Mr Cheng by his teacher before passing away has a great influence upon his attitude for life and art, which will be a treasure for all his life.
“For a calligrapher, virtue is forever the foundation of his life. The calligraphy of Qin Hui (a traitor in Chinese history) was no worse than Wang Xizhi (one of the masters of calligraphy in Chinese history). However, no one has ever tried to learn his calligraphy since the ancient times. Why? The reason is his moral personality.”Cheng commented.
Cheng Maoquan is versatile with years of accumulation. He’s been practicing calligraphy for dozens of years and has formed his own unique style among the calligraphers of China. As a well-known calligrapher in China, his works have been widely collected by many domestic and foreign art galleries and museums. CCTV and BTV have made several special programs introducing his calligraphy.
Mr. Cheng has an excellent memory. As soon as he finishes reading an article, he can remember everything in it. When he talks with other people, his speeches are like formal written articles, which is an ability admired by all. He has more than 5,000 telephone contacts, most of which are celebrities in the art circle. He can tell the telephone number of any person among these contacts without referring to the records in his phone.
Keeping Uprightness and Seeking Truth
In June, 1999, Cheng Maoquan established Hongbao Hall Art Gallery on the basis of the original Kong Shan Hall, which is located at one end of the famous Liulichang Cultural Street. The store mainly sells calligraphies and paintings of famous people, four precious articles of the writing table, writing brushes, ink sticks, paper, ink stones, enamel jades, handiworks, souvenirs, etc.. Though the store does not have a long history, it has already become quite popular in the cultural circle within and outside China. Thanks to the support of many famous calligraphers and painters such as Qigong, Shen Peng, Ouyang Zhongshi, Liu Bingsen and Fan Zeng, Hongbao Hall Art Gallery has gained success. According to its own features, Hongbao Hall takes “unique, special, novel, peculiar” as its aim and “true, small, qualified, cheap” as its basis of its operation principle. The Gallery has gained obvious economic and social effect as well as the welcome and appraisal in all fields in the society.
“Now it’s a period of great prosperity in the market of calligraphy and painting. The prices of calligraphies and paintings are also rising at a fast speed. However, there are also more and more counterfeits in the market. For example, Master Qi Baishi had altogether about 30, 000 works, but in the market there are at least 150,000 Qi Baishi’s works, which means over 120,000 among them are counterfeits. The counterfeited works of Fan Zeng even exceed 1 million pieces.” Cheng told reporters of China IP .
The market of art works is filled with counterfeits now. Even the famous ancient cultural street Liulichang cannot escape such a destiny. Cheng Maoquan hates this phenomenon very much. “I hate counterfeits very much! I will try my best to stop it from happening in my store,” Cheng said, “Some people make and sell counterfeits for the present interests. This has not only infringed upon the copyright of the authors, but also harmed the interests of the consumers. In the meanwhile, this phenomenon has also made the market more and more disordered and has caused the vicious circle. Not long after Hongbao Hall's establishment, Xinhua press has published an special report named Say Goodbye to Counterfeits. We must make sure that we are selling true works in our store, and we promise not to sell any counterfeited work in our Art Gallery.”
Cheng said that the first reason for doing so was to be a moral man. Another reason is to protect the status and honor of Beijing Liulichang Cultural Street in the circle of calligraphy and painting in China. In the present market environment where large amount of counterfeited works are sold, such ground-holding attitude is really precious!
But how can Cheng Maoquan make sure that all the works they are selling are true works in the practical operation process? To put it simply, they keep an extremely watchful eye during the process of “importation”. “We never ‘import’ counterfeits. I know all the painters who are selling paintings in our store. I never sell the paintings of a painter whom I don’t know.” Cheng said.
The confidence of Cheng comes from his sincerity in the communication with other people. He has many friends in the art circle and many other circles, which is a guarantee for the source, quality and quantity of works in his store.
Though being successful in his business, Cheng never regards himself as a businessman, but rather a thorough cultural worker. He usually says to others: “If you are interested in art, you may come to me. If you want money, never come to me. No one earns more than bosses of coal mines and real estate dealers. Our basis is the cultural undertaking.”
“History will continue and culture has to be developed. Our generation has such responsibility and obligation to inherit and pass on the traditional culture of the Chinese people!” Cheng said.
Cheng Maoquan, born in 1957 in Beijing and graduated from the Capital Normal University as a calligraphy major student, is a famous Chinese artist who styles himself as Chunyi. Cheng is a member of the China Calligraphers Association, Director of the Yinglian Society of China, has been invited as a member of the Social and Legal Affairs Committee of the Beijing CPPCC, is an adjunct professor of Beijing Union University School of Management, Director of the Beijing Calligraphers Association, a member of the CPPCC of Beijing City Xuanwu District, and also President of Beijing Hongbao Hall Culture Co., Ltd. as well as General Manager of Beijing Liulichang Hongbao Hall Art Gallery.

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“History will continue and culture has to be developed. Our generation has such responsibility and obligation to inherit and pass on the traditional culture of the Chinese people!”

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