“From Samurai, Sushi, Anime, Next Newcomer – Sisyu!” Exhibition

hpgrp gallery

poster for “From Samurai, Sushi, Anime, Next Newcomer – Sisyu!” Exhibition

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On Breaking the Limits of Culture with The Power of Art Sisyu

1. Creator Sisyu
Rooted in the Orient, calligraphy arrived in Japan approximately 1300 years ago. Since then, the writing instruments have not changed. Brushes were used to illustrate various worlds on handmade paper made from plant fibers. The ink was a mixture of soot and glue that was dried into a solid state. These writings, using jet-black ink arewell preserved even after 100 years, and writings 1,000 year old still remain to this day. Know as pictographs,kanji (the Japanese writing system using Chinese characters) represents events through characters. In its long history, great calligraphers have studied kanji and conveyed their meaning, establishing the characters’ various typefaces within the realm of art.

Sisyu was inspired by this 1300-year-old traditional art-form of calligraphy. Calligrapher Sisyu’s first work was “Creators.” The work itself manifested from the idea of a person who creates, unwaveringly representing Sisyu as borne to create art. At that moment, the act of creation became Sisyu’s lifetime work.

2. Limits of Culture
In a world of 195 countries, Japan is the only country to use a combination of pictograph characters, kanji, and phonetic characters kana. Thelanguage is rich with expressive power. Japanese characters are difficult to understand; unlike in music where words are fused by melody and tone, the kana characters do not leave an impression and are not borderless. On a visual plane of expression, the complexity of Japanese language places limits on Japanese calligraphy as a cultural art. For this wall, Sisyu argues to break the limits of culture with the power of art through her artworks.

3. From Planar to Three Dimensions
When Sisyu released “Sabi” in 2007, the work broke the traditional conventions of calligraphy on paper. Light is shed upon the sculpture and shadow is born in a representation of three dimensions on the plane. There is meaning in the slow sway of shadow on theplane; the space itself expresses one Japanese character. Sabi means lonely. In Japan, it expresses an aged appearance. In Wabi Sabi’s “Sabi,” the work projects a shadow in subdued light on the canvas. A simultaneous trembling loneliness is felt in tranquil “Sabi.” This calligraphy artwork is a three-dimensional piece, a shadow art, and an interactive art. Sisyu is three dimensions on the written plane. Three-dimensional characters lead to two-dimensional shadows, which create a new art of calligraphy.

3300 years ago, the root of Japanese language was born upon inscribed breasts’ bones and tortoise shells. The ancients carved letters into the bones of cattle and deer. 1300 years later, paper was invented. Expressed by our ancestors, character means to carve in three dimensions. In modern calligraphy, Sisyu proved to become the new art within these works.

4. The Fusion of Calligraphy & Painting
It is said that Sisyu is a fusion of calligraphy and painting. Narrative tales were often written directly upon ancient paintings in Japan. The most famous work is from the early Edo period by multi disciplinary artist Hon’ami Koetsu. During the same time, during the 17th century, artist Tawaraya Sōtatsu took the world by storm with his collaborative piece, “Crane Sketch Thirty Six Rokkasen Waka Winding,” a work on paper with a width thirty-four centimeters. Neither solely calligraphy nor painting, the piece mutually interacts between each form. Here, Koetsu’s characters are dimensional objects—not to be read with strong meaning. Instead, the calligraphy serves as a pleasant guide for theviewer. If one actually follows the characters in the work, it suggests an illusion as if the crane is moving. As an artistic fusion of calligraphy and painting, Sisyu’s new challenge is to reach out to the viewer. Although rarely seen in the West, characters and images often overlap on one single piece; literature and art traditionally have intimate representations. Thisidea is also the origin of Japanese anime.

In this exhibition, in addition to canvas, works are drawn on gold folding screens. Created with paper and glue, and without metal hinges, Japanese folding screens are able to fold in or out. When expanded in a room, the screens act as a partition. Once compactly folded, the folding screens become portable paintings. Utilizing 700-year-old traditional technique and ingenuity, the artist uses these elements throughout her works.

5. The Fusion of Calligraphy & Digital Technology
From writing on bone to paper, media—the means of communication— changes. The modern era is inseparable from the digital. In Japan, culture x technology coexists as the future country. Calligraphy works in harmony with the digital. In this digitalspace of calligraphy, calligraphy is written in ink. Collaborative calligraphy in the form of iron engravings and paintings are different than other calligraphy. Although at first glance, it does not appear different from writing on paper, it is impossible to decipher the handwriting and vigor of the characters. The discourse suggests that one factor concerning the spread ofdigitization is that information has been simplified by the use of 1s and 0s. By stripping away as much as possible in the information of calligraphy, digital calligraphy is realized. Beyond imagination, many more people are able engage with calligraphy.

6. Culture of Civilized Society
Japan has historically always been a receptive culture. Accepting civilization, technology and culture from foreign countries, Japan absorbed and evolved. On the other hand, traditional Japanese culture is becoming part of history. Japan is filled with convenient cutting-edge technology, over 2000 years culture, and Western beauty. Culture indigenous to Japan is partly on the decline—a crisis on the verge of extinction. Culture is born and fostered by people and in order toconnect the culture to the next generation, the artist argues in support of the buying of culture as a force to maintain the culture of this civilization—in Japan and in the world.

Abou Sisyu:
A Japanese calligraphic art representative officially recognized by the Japanese government. Born in Japan, she dedicated herself to creation ever since she started “ Sho ” (calligraphy) at the age of six.

Moved to Tokyo and started her professional career as a calligrapher. Her creations inherit the traditional “Sho” and express the transition from the past to a new age of “Sho” with a new perspective.

Using calligraphy, Sisyu has established herself as an artist in Japanese calligraphy and she has expanded this by incorporating them into other art forms such as sculptures, media arts, and painting.

This comes in forms of etched iron calligraphy, and floating words which transform into animated animals.

Sisyu’s works have been exhibited widely, including at the Musee Guimet, Mirano Salone and New York Grand Central Terminal in 2014, Florida Morikami Museum in 2013, Laval Virtual, Nobel Nightcap, and Davos World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2012, the Venice biennale in 2011 and 2005, and Paris Collection at the Louvre in 2009.

Sisyu was selected as a Japan’s representative artist for Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts annual show to exhibit her works at Carrousel du Louvre in France in December 2014.



from November 25, 2014 to December 07, 2014

Opening Reception on 2014-11-25 from 18:00 to 20:00



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