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Aesthetics & Philosophy About Chinese Calligraphy

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There's no single set of criteria for calligraphy - in particular, clearly the hiragana of Heian times is working on a very different basis from the Zen calligraphy of later centuries. Nonetheless, there is some commonality. Such considerations as balance, linework and composition always apply, in some way or other. Calligraphy should be done without hesitation, with speed and confidence, but never easily - one book claims "It is said of one master that he would never accept the work of any pupil who did not get drenched with sweat through the spiritual exertion of writing."


It has always been as rhythmic and musical as Paul Klee's painting. Clearly someone like me, who can't understand the words, sees it in much the same way as I might see an abstract expressionist painting, where the rhythms and linework of a Kline, Pollock or Tobey seem to be pressing much the same buttons. This is of course a category error, in that it neglects the meaning (though these days, some 'calligraphy' is unreadable by Japanese people too), but I can't do too much about that right now.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2011 13:33