Arts & Culture

Modern Japanese calligraphy exhibition launched at National Arboretum in Canberra

Ian Bushnell 13 March 2019

Japanese calligrapher Tairiku Teshima explains his work at the National Arboretum on Saturday. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

A free exhibition of new works by one of the leading exponents of modern Japanese calligraphy, Tairiku Teshima, has been launched at the National Arboretum in Canberra.

The framed and mounted 28 ink on paper works – reflecting nature, creation and beauty – are from the school of symbolic calligraphy called shõsho, a dynamic modern art that uses limited characters and brushstrokes. They will be on show in the Village Centre until 31 March.

Most of the works have been specially created for the exhibition, which is sponsored by the International Art Foundation and the Embassy of Japan.

The artist is visiting Australia and was present at the launch to explain the origins of calligraphy, the simple tools required, and to take the audience through the exhibition, titled One.

Teshima said through an interpreter that he had been surprised and pleased to learn that for the first time his work had been curated in such a way as to tell a story – that of life on earth, with an optimistic message of peace and unity.

According to John Crawford from the International Art Foundation, shõsho has been influenced by Western modern art and is a spontaneous expression that typically uses just one or a very few numbers of characters or ideograms.

One did not need to be literate in Japanese to appreciate the works, he told the audience.

“Shõsho aims to express the essence of the meaning contained in a letter or form so that even an audience not familiar with the written form or character can sense the essence of the meaning of the word,” he said.

The artist’s father pioneered shõsho and Teshima had continued to develop and extend its possibilities.

According to the artist, work should not only be well formed but also express the heart of the calligrapher as well as the feeling and shape inherent in the ideogram.

For Teshima it is also a spiritual practice.

“The most spiritual part of calligraphy is how I can reflect my mind, my heart into these lines that I’m drawing, and how can I reflect my soul,” he said.

The works are mainly black ink on paper but there are also touches of red.

Born in Shibuya, Tokyo, in 1947, Tairiku Teshima has won many awards and his works have been exhibited widely in Japan and internationally.

In September 2009, he received the Princess Takamado Prize, awarded to artists who promote exchange and dialogue between cultures by calligraphy.

At the opening reception of his exhibition in Paris at UNESCO headquarters, he was presented with the Gold Medal for Cultural Influence (Medaille du Rayonnement Culturel) by the Renaissance Francaise.

In 2016 he received a Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation Prize for promoting cultural exchange through calligraphy between Japan and foreign countries.

Calligraphy workshops will be held throughout the exhibition. Suitable for those aged seven years and over (children must be accompanied by parents). All materials supplied. $5 per person and bookings essential at www.stickytickets.com.au/81603

For more information go here.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on The RiotACT.

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