Calligraphy Continued: Kyoto Artist, Shotei Ibata

Mr. 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.

Mr. Ibata: Brushes 2

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.

11 thoughts on “Calligraphy Continued: Kyoto Artist, Shotei Ibata

  1. jim

    i cannot get over the size of those brushes… unbelievable, what is the size of the piece they are working on with a six foot brush?

  2. Garry Dobbing

    You know, I’m sorta happy that I’m not the only one who noticed the size of that brush. I mean, you could paint the outside of my house with those brushes in about one hour.

  3. stevebeimel

    To see Ibata-sensei perform with that brush on 400 sq. ft. of paper and create a giant, full cursive version of a Chinese character is breathtaking.

  4. Marjorie

    Hi Blessed Steve,
    And blessings to Ritsuko and Ron too! He looks so familar is Ibata-sensei the same gentlemen who did the caligraphy at 2101 parking lot years ago? The huge paper on the ground, with that huge brush as we watched breathless as he twirled and created the giant character.
    Thought I only saw it once – this is a lifetime type of experience for anyone to witness. As you say, The artist’s whole beingness is here and now bringing forth the creation in it’s entirety in Asia, where as in the Western world, the artist thinks and thinks and paints, and thinks some more to make it perfect in their eyes. Asian artist by-passes the mind. no mind – and creates simple BEAUTY!
    Thanks for these pictures too. LLL, Marjorie

  5. susanna

    Beautiful work. Where do you purchase the giant mop brushes? I have a very hard time finding any on line for sale. Thanks.

  6. loannenna

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language

  7. Careers For Artists

    I really enjoy reading Calligraphy Continued: Kyoto Artist, Shotei Ibata « Steve Beimel . It’s very interesting. Hope you will post something like this again.

  8. Joan Thompson

    Not only is Shotei Ibata a very great calligrapher and national treasure of Japan in my opinion, he is also a wonderful man and teacher. I studied under him for three years in Kyoto in the mid-1990s and it was a fantastic experience. His wife was a wonderful person also as well as his daughters. What a gift. Joan Thompson