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gaijin calligraphy

Post #525 • April 27, 2005, 6:36 AM • 7 Comments

From the retreat at Upaya.

Yong, eternity, drawn with a horse hair brush about two feet long. Check the fingers.

This one isn't mine. Minette, Tanahashi-sensei's assitant, made it, and was going to throw it away. Happy Year of the Rooster!


Xing, action.

Yong, mounted with wheat starch on heavy Korean paper.

Xin, heart or mind. This one isn't mine either - it's by Steve, the guy in the blue shirt with the tail, next to last image at the above link. He's a cardiologist from Denver who was carrying three Japanese dictionaries with him. Very cool, and very good.

Practicing yong.

Yong, cursive script.

Qi, breath, cursive.

Not shown: 100 pages of discards.

Coming soon: gwailo brush paintings.




April 27, 2005, 7:51 PM

Discounting Minette's rooster, the first image is my favorite. Since I don't understand the symbol [is it a little mutant baby with wings?], it's all abstract expressionism to me. I could use some "wall text" to help me follow the rest, tho. And tell us more about the red stamp on Steve's work. I've always loved those stamps, but never knew what they were.



April 27, 2005, 8:16 PM

Hovig, I think the stamps are either signatures or owner's stamps, as on other Japanese and Chinese flat work. But Franklin is the expert.

Ironically, because it is specifically literal, calligraphy may be the "purest" form of abstract painting because it is not only very simple in form and execution, but what it has, aside from that literal meaning, is revealed only though the experience of seeing and feeling.

It is possible to apprehend Western handwriting this way also, and it is integrated into the science (if you will) of Graphology through the concept of "form level".



April 27, 2005, 10:07 PM

seems to have alot in common with graffiti



April 28, 2005, 1:18 AM

Jack, the original character (the one identified as yong, eternity, at the formation of the Chinese written language) very clearly showed a picture of a river. Xin, heart, still has the four chambers of the heart that were depicted in the original pictograph. The left-hand portion of xing (action) is "step," the lower part of "step" being two walking legs of the ren (man) radical, with a line above to indicate motion. Ren has been tilted to sort of a T shape to fit the rest of the character; in its independent form, each leg is drawn to opposite lower corners and suggests a moving man. The cursive yong works the same way as Western cursive - the connnection between the strokes of the character is drawn, and the strokes themselves are angled a bit to flow better. Even native readers sometimes have difficulty reading calligraphic cursive.

The red stamp is referred to as a "chop." Nowadays, chops are the signature of the artist, but in the past sometimes collectors and museums would put chops on the work. In the Hong Kong museum you can see beautiful pieces that have had the bejeezus chopped out of them. It creates an interesting historical record but I believe this abusive practice has been stopped. The chop contains the artist's name (in this case, Steve's Japanese name or adopted Japanese name), and often the style of writing in the chop is one of the older styles, such as the Iron Style from Chinese. The red pigment is cinnabar, and is manufactured in varying shades from warm scarlet to blood red.

Oldpro, all brush painting, according to my teacher, derives from calligraphy in the Chinese tradition. These abstract shapes directly form the basis of the figurative ones, so your observation is appropriate.

As is Eddie's. It's basically the same process - the rendering of letterforms in a visually interesting way, typically using a tool that gives you something other than a line to work with.



April 28, 2005, 1:59 AM

Sorry, "Hovig" is spelled "Jack" in my country. I apologize for the confusion.



April 28, 2005, 2:10 AM

Collectors in the Orient, in the old days, liked to mount their signature stamps right on the face of the picture to associate themselves with the great artists of the past and present. Consequently as pictures changed owners often the best pictures were festooned with the things.

It's a good thing we don't follow the same practice. Iin most cases, anyway).



April 28, 2005, 8:02 AM


This stuff is just great

Touch, push, move, pull, move, push, pull






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