Calligraphy is an art form that’s somewhere between writing and painting, which makes it all the more lovely. It combines aspects of the expressive power that comes with words as well as the extreme impact that’s made by a piece of visual art. Shofu Yoshimoto-sensei’s art is both feminine and bold.
It’s delicate and yet at the same time quite strong. Naturally it embodies all of the aspects that appreciators of fine art have come to expect from calligraphy. The work itself has a very serene appearance, but they aren’t entirely filled with hope. Sometimes viewers feel overwhelmed by majestic seas of ink while other times they simply surrender to the gentle flow of the brush.
In many ways the theme that was selected for the display of her works at the Gallery Yakimono is reflection. Two separate parts were picked. Some of this comes from the book Yukiguni (Snow Country) by Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972). This stark and dramatic love tale between a provincial geisha and her Tokyo suitor is rather well known to French readers.
In this case the calligraphy reflects on the work and uses form and content to show many of the themes that are present in Kawabata-sensei’s novel. The novel is a book of contrasts. Dreams, love and the relentless search for beauty is something that’s entirely understandable in both the French and Japanese languages. In many ways this particular work is an intersection of both reality and symbolisms.
Interestingly many of the symbols in the Snow Country reading could be viewed as opposed to what might be seen as Western modernity, but it’s obvious that Shofu-sensei’s work is not quite as clear-cut. There are positive and negative elements in every culture, and the reflections have helped to make this clearer. Indeed, those who would rather see cultures blend than criticize one another could draw such conclusions from the calligraphy.
One of the best aspects of calligraphy is the fact that the individual viewing it can interpret it on a scale not possible with other aspects of visual art. Since they additionally have the text to meditate on they can better understand the artist’s intent. Naturally when people view Shofu-sensei’s work they’ll also be doing so through their own lens, which means that their observations will be tempered by the things that they have seen and their own ideas. Perhaps they might very well challenge the conceptions that they have as a result.