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World Renowned Calligrapher Wang Houtang Showcases “Kung Fu Ink” Martial Arts Exhibition At Ethan Cohen Art Center

ByEthan Lin

Jul 9, 2024

Renowned martial arts calligrapher Wang Houtang launched his “Kung Fu Ink” calligraphy exhibition, which ran from June 1 to 30, 2024, from 3 PM to 5 PM at the Ethan Cohen Art Center, 211 Fishkill Ave in Beacon, New York. Curated by Ethan Cohen, Gan Yu, and Xingde Sheng, the highly-anticipated exhibition featured Wang Houtang’s rendition of the 260-character Heart Sutra, written using a self-made 40-pound iron brush. Houtang also hosted an in-person lecture at the gallery on June 26, 2024, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST.

The “Kung Fu Ink” exhibition, which opened on June 1st, fused two iconic Chinese arts—martial arts and calligraphy—encapsulating the profound depth and richness of traditional Chinese culture. The exhibition featured three remarkable pieces by Houtang: “Dragon,” celebrating the Year of the Dragon and its supreme position in Chinese culture, “Eagle,” symbolizing the strength, freedom, and independence of American culture, and “Tao,” highlighting its centrality in traditional Chinese culture as the birthplace of Taoism. Houtang’s extraordinary technique was showcased through the complete Heart Sutra, written using the “five-color ink” calligraphy method, with each character meticulously crafted. This distinctive form of writing, a test of skill and patience, reflected Houtang’s profound reverence and devotion to the Buddhist classic art form. This groundbreaking exhibition marked the first time the Heart Sutra had been written using “five-color ink,” demonstrating Houtang’s mastery of martial arts philosophy through calligraphy.

“Martial arts calligraphy merges two great Chinese cultural treasures in martial arts and calligraphy. This represents both a unique writing method and artistic innovation, and the use of water and ink in this way is unparalleled in the world of calligraphy,” said Houtang, who is also Chairman of the KungFu-Ink Association. “I hope to use this opportunity to bring traditional Chinese culture to the international stage, allowing more people to appreciate, experience, and understand the profound depth of Chinese culture.”

Ethan Cohen, Executive Director of the Ethan Cohen Gallery, praised Houtang’s Kung Fu calligraphy for integrating various artistic elements, including ink painting, martial arts, and performance art. Cohen’s own family touts deep connections with Chinese cultural arts, as his father, Jerome Cohen, is the founder of East Asian Legal Studies at Harvard University, and his mother, Joan Cohen, was one of the earliest scholars to introduce contemporary Chinese art to the West.

“Wang Houtang is a performance artist, representing a new and fascinating artistic possibility. Every Chinese character you see is a beautiful visual poem, born from his thoughts, soul, and years of training in martial arts and calligraphy,” said Cohen, who also expressed his hope to use this opportunity to continue his family tradition and build a bridge for cultural communication between China and the United States.

On June 26, 2024, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, calligrapher Wang Houtang hosted a lecture at the Ethan Cohen Gallery. Houtang spoke about his “Kung Fu Ink” exhibition, which marked a new epoch in the world of calligraphy, showcasing modern art exchanges between China and the United States during the Reform and Opening Era from 1978 to 1988.

Wang Houtang extended special thanks to those who made “Kung Fu Ink” possible, including curator and executive director Ethan Cohen, co-curators Gan Yu and Xingde Sheng, and exhibition assistant Chere Hong. Additionally, Wang’s work was purchased by renowned artist and collector Yigal Ozeri, highlighting the significant impact and appreciation of his artistry.

For more information about the exhibition, please visit

About the Artist Wang Houtang:

Born in Shandong, China, Wang Houtang was schooled in the rich traditions of martial arts and calligraphy. Hailing from a family of calligraphers, Wang began learning martial arts and studying the ages-old art of calligraphy at the age of seven. In the past two decades, Wang has practiced calligraphy for four hours a day nearly every day of the year with his signature, hand-crafted, 40-pound iron brush. Wang is renowned for his bold and powerful martial arts calligraphy, which he currently creates from his six-acre residence and garden in downtown Yantai, China. 

Ethan Lin

One of the founding members of DMR, Ethan, expertly juggles his dual roles as the chief editor and the tech guru. Since the inception of the site, he has been the driving force behind its technological advancement while ensuring editorial excellence. When he finally step away from his trusty laptop, he spend his time on the badminton court polishing his not-so-impressive shuttlecock game.

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