"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


Mami is a calligraphy artist involved in a wide range of artistic pursuits in Japan and abroad, from solo exhibitions and live performances to visual identity and video works. She was born in 1990 in Yamaguchi Prefecture and discovered Japanese calligraphy at the age of nine through a lesson at elementary school. She comments, "I was attracted to the three-dimensional movement, where the lines become thicker if you push down on the brush and thinner if you pull back, and the ink bleeds and becomes faint." That same day she was knocking at the gate of a calligraphy school in her neighborhood. She says she became engrossed in calligraphy. "Every day I just did calligraphy all the time, wanting to be the best at it," and viewing her classmates that already had a calligraphy rank as rivals. Before long she was racking up awards in calligraphy contests.

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


The Calligraselfie exhibition shines a light on Mami's current mash-up style of expression. She defines combining selfies, or photos where the photographer is the subject, and calligraphy as a selfie of the inner self. Enso, or the drawing of a Zen circle, is also expressed as a round window. A circle drawn with one continuous brushstroke looks different to different people depending on their inner state, and is therefore seen as a window into one's soul. Mami's soul is also visible in her calligraphy. As she says, "I put happy thoughts into the strokes." Mami's exploration into the relationship between calligraphy and people's inner selves can also be seen in BLACK BLACK, her series of black characters drawn on black backgrounds that she unveiled in 2013.
Calligraselfie is an extension of her 2020 "People Are Mirrors" series of characters drawn on mirrors. "If someone displays bad behavior toward you, it is a reflection of your behavior. From this cautionary lesson, we should put out positive vibes from treating others well and demonstrating good behavior, and create the world we wish to have." Mami has used the concept of "people are a mirror reflecting oneself," which is one of her favorite expressions, to question our relationship 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

Serendipity has been stolen from us, engaging with others has been shut down, and there are fears of deepening social fragmentation. From supply and demand networks in business to geopolitics, relationships around the world are being called into question. What is needed then is the joint actions of disparate people meeting, revealing their thoughts to each other and discussing them on an equal footing. History shows us that this is how new eras are created.

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

There will be a live performance every day during the exhibition.

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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"MAMIMOZI" solo exhibition, studio 4N, Tokyo

Calligraselfie Mami

exhibition period

2022.06.04(Sat) - 2022.06.09(Thur)


YUGEN Gallery


Token International Building 3F, 2-12-19 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours


June 4 (Sat) 17:00-20:00/P.19:00-
June 5 (Sun) 13:00-19:00/P.18:00-
June 6 (Mon) 14:00-19:00/P.18:00-
June 7 (Tue) 14:00-19:00/P.18:00-
June 8 (Wednesday) 14:00-19:00/P.18:00-
Thursday, June 9 14:00-17:00/P.16:00-
* "P." is the performance start time


Writer's day

every day during the period

closing day


Admission fee



*Please note that the exhibition period and opening hours may change without notice depending on the situation.