Come Tet in Hanoi and the art scene, not to mention the street scenes surrounding the Temple of Literature, are often a-swirl with calligraphers, some brilliant and some lamentable.
Chinese calligraphy- brush calligraphy-is an art that is unique to Asian cultures and in the context of Chinese art history it has been held in equal importance to painting and was once considered the most abstract and sublime form of art in Chinese culture. Both calligraphy and painting were basic skills and disciplines of Chinese scholars and intellectuals.
Historically and culturally all calligraphy strokes are permanent and unchangable, demanding careful planning and confident execution. However, the artist is able to be extremely creative, and by controlling the thickness and absorbity of the paper and the flexibility of the brush, an infinite variety of styles and forms is able to be produced.
For a good artist, the practice of calligraphy is a mental exercise that co-ordinates the mind and the body in choosing the best style that expresses the content of a passage, or a philosophy. Once it was considered to be a relaxing though highly disciplined exercise that enhanced the practitioner’s physical and spiritual well being….indeed, many good calligraphy artists were well known for their longevity.
Though it’s not Tet, all of the above leads into the Bui Gallery’s latest exhibition, “Energy Within: the untitled works of Djoko KS“. Djoko is an Indonesian artist of Chinese descent who, after a long career as a realist, as he approached his elder years, started to explore the possibilities and meditations of classical Chinese calligraphy. The works on display are from the mid 90’s to 2000
Like many talented, modern artistic calligraphers ( aka: Hanoi’s Gang of Five) he uses the calligraphic form but his strokes have no linguistic meaning. As with any good considered calligraphic line, each is imbued with its own beauty and intellectual intent .
Because the exhibition has been curated with care, the works sing together but are hung well enough spaced for the viewer to be able to engage in a meditation or examination of the individual. The upstairs gallery is one of those spaces that you should try to visit on a slow day when the light, the space, the quietness and the artworks create a very calming and peaceful place to be enveloped in. The sort of place to be when a storm is raging outside.
The textured backgrounds of the works and the calligraphic strokes create a subdued sense of harmony and sometimes sensuous dance.
It’s a lovely exhibition to be part of and, if you’re an appreciator of the Hanoian calligraphic artists, you’ll pick up on similarities and disparities.
My comments on Chinese calligraphy are open to argument and correction.
|Not a reviewer, not a critic, “Kiếm Văn Tìm” is an interested, impartial and informed observer and connoisseur of the Hanoi art scene who offers highly opinionated remarks and is part of the long and venerable tradition of anonymous correspondents. Please add your thoughts in the comment field below.|