"Calligraselfie" Solo Exhibition by Calligraphy Artist Mami
2022.06.04(Sat) – 2022.06.09(Thu)
YUGEN Gallery is holding the "Calligraselfie" exhibition by calligraphy artist Mami, From Saturday, June 4 to Thursday, June 9, 2022.
《Calligraselfie》 Revolution seen in a mirror
She decided to become a calligraphy artist in her second year of high school, and enrolled in Daitoku Bunka University to study calligraphy. As she explored new forms of expression through calligraphy, however, she felt a disconnect with her peers who were just following the established path in the world of Japanese calligraphy. She also wanted to incorporate her long-time love of hip hop into her calligraphy. She sees calligraphy as the same kind of visual language art as graffiti, a key element of hip hop culture, and this led her to establish her style of Calligraf2ity, a portmanteau of "calligraphy" and "graffiti" that signifies the blending of the two cultures. Like many forms of street culture, Mami's signature style mashes up calligraphy and elements that would normally be inconceivable together.
"As long as you keep the basic form, it's all calligraphy. Writing with ink on paper started some 1,700 years ago, so in a historical sense it's very recent. Before that people would write on things like cow bones and tortoise shells, or etch on bronzeware. These things that don't even use a brush are still called calligraphy." Based on this lineage, expression made with modern technology is also calligraphy, and there have been groundbreaking expressive works recently such as drone calligraphy, where a drone draws characters in the sky.
Calligraphy seeking goodness and engagement with the world
"If I notice I'm slouching when I see my reflection in glass or a mirror, I straighten my back. Mirrors make us aware of things we were not aware of, and prompt us to want to be better. Mirrors take us to a better place. And then taking a selfie is the act of finding what is most attractive about yourself."Calligraphy is a reflection of your inner self, other people reflect what kind of person you are, and selfies are a way to find out who you want to be. Mami urges us to strive for goodness in the world from these relationships that are reflected in the mirror. In the exhibition, she lines up characters drawn on mirrors so that when a person takes photos of the works with a smartphone, that person is also reflected. Posting these photos to social media then creates interactive expression for the installation that attempts to form spontaneous relationships between one's inner self and others' inner selves.
Boundary-pushing expression seeped in history
Mami admires the Qing dynasty calligraphers Zhao Zhiqian and Wu Changshuo, who influenced the calligraphy of the Northern Wei dynasty as well as modern calligraphy, and she continues to study the ancient texts. "Calligraphy cannot develop unless calligraphers become fully immersed in the shapes of the characters. It is because ancient calligraphy exists that we can create beautiful expression. This process has no end." In the modern world with repeating cycles of conflict that show we have not learned from history, calligraphy also shows us the importance of history's vantage point.
In contrast to the world of calligraphy that tends to feel closed in on itself, Mami has a foundation in calligraphy's timeless cultural and technical legacy, and she pays utmost respect to it for allowing her the freedom to explore expression from her own position on this foundation. "The power I feel from calligraphy will be passed down to people 1,000 years from now," she says. She will be a chapter in the history of calligraphy. This also explains her perpetual exploration of new expression.
In On Revolution, Hannah Arendt talks about how new eras are made from the power that emanates from people gathering together under one roof to engage in a war of words. She says this itself is revolution. Writing is a medium that bonds people together, and the power to turn toward goodness emanates from Calligraselfie. Like hip hop, this is a revolution by the people.
Live performance event
Reservations are not required, and all are welcome.
About work sales
At the same time as the exhibition is held, it will be possible to view and purchase the works on the YUGEN Gallery official online store.
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