Calligraphy Continued: Kyoto Artist, Shotei Ibata
Much of the history and culture of east Asia is expressed in the Chinese writing system, consisting of thousands of characters that can each be written in one of five very different calligraphic styles. The possibilities for execution and interpretation of those characters in art and literature are almost endless. Shodo has long been considered the master art of Asia and all educated, cultured people have studied it. It formed a foundation for their education and influenced the course of their lives and careers.
Ibata-sensei has a collection of very large brushes. The one on the far right, below, contains the tails of 15 horses and is 6 feet long.
There are several basic differences between western art and Asian calligraphy. Western artists use short bristle brushes. Calligraphers use long bristle brushes that hold a lot of ink, enabling more fluidly so any one character can be completed without interruption, with just one dip of the brush.
Whereas western artists paint on upright easels, Calligraphers paint flat on the floor. Western-trained artists paint in stages, correcting and adjusting as they go. Calligraphers finish a work in one moment in time. If it is successful, the work is signed and kept. If not, it is discarded and the process is repeated over and over until the desired result is achieved. Calligraphers are inspired by Zen to express what is present in the moment. Any distraction in the mind of the artist shows up in the work.