Yoshiko Yoshida: Mastering the art of Japanese calligraphy

What a soul stimulating city Nara (central Japan) seems to an artistic mind and how well fed such spirit is while discovering jewels of this ancient japanese capital! Contemporary calligrapher Yoshiko Yoshida (55) was born and grew up in this >>haut-lieu<< of Japanese buddhism.
Attached to the written and spiritual traditions of ancient Japan and China, Yoshiko’s work mainly focuses on meditative character of  writings. As expected, Japanese calligraphic expression, based on zen principles, is highly philosophical and her work is not an exeption to this even when streaching from quiet and smooth variations to very strong contrasts in expression as well as in meaning of the written text – the object of Yoshiko Yoshida’s interest.
“Working on classics leads you to the essence of creative activity.” stays artist on importance of the heritage in art of beautiful writing. ” The harmony of the black and white can only be achieved by hard work, and when I find it, it brings me happiness and delight. I can get much power then so I go back confronting myself with Chinese and Japanese classics again.”

Yoshiko Yoshida: The Sun and the Moon are shining, ink on paper, 2011 Okayama
Yoshiko Yoshida: The Sun and the Moon are shining, ink on paper, 2011 Okayama

In >Crystal ball< she gives a free flow to oen of her most powerful expressions: the object described smooth, cold, and immobile has nothing to do with her vision of it. Yoshiko goes far behind of what object looks like, she studies what it’s potential and possibilities are.
“Calligraphy needs rhythm and body movements as well, in other words, it asks you to be conscious of your breathing,” says Yoshiko Yoshida. “When I find myself open to synchronise with a classic, I am so released as if ‘SOMEONE’ blessed me. When I attain such state of mind, I can accept myself and can go ahead with producing my own art-works with Chinese characters and developing abstract calligraphy freely.” Beautiful example of this philosophy is >The Crystal ball<:
In ancient China, crystal ball has been used as an oracle Chinese emperors loved to consult in hope to get known what may come during their reign or what may happen to them in the future. Ideogram pictured here is composed of two parts 玉 (ball) and 珠 (jewel or gem) but it does represent more the light reflected by the crystal rather than the object: so called ‘bi’, a stone discus with a hole in the middle evocating at the same time philosophical separation of the Sky and the Earth ( or all earthy and all heavenly) as well as their mystical union in this object. Yoshiko’s artistic conception has got roots in early cosmological beliefs of taoist China, but stretches far behind a simple expression of these. She explores the relation of an obect and it’s funcition as well as how this function may change in time.

Yoshiko Yoshida: Crystal ball, ink on paper, 2012 Okayama
Yoshiko Yoshida: Crystal ball, ink on paper, 2012 Okayama

Original bringing together of Chinese first cave writing style with modern Japanese poem in work inspired by Natsume Soseki’s verses witnesses of Yoshiko’s interest in ancient writings including those very early almost primitive ones have which have got an important influence on her work: “When you learn classics from ancient Chinese and Japanese calligraphers’ works, you should be very careful about the speed and rhythm, then you can feel classics’ very precised and delicate nuances.”
Today, Yoshiko Yoshida lives and Works in Okayama, Japan.

Yoshiko Yoshida: Poem by Natume Soseki, ink on paper, 2013 Okayama
Yoshiko Yoshida: Poem by Natsume Soseki, ink on paper, 2013 Okayama


Un barbare en Chine

On the way back from Japan, I could not but stop by in Shanghai again – to get more of it, to enjoy it bit more I did in 2011, not primarly aiming to understand it ( I think there is nothing one can understand about modern China and not be quiet -well let’s say- surprised by it ) but just to experience the city I find an example of all the exotic colonial past stuff and Extreme-Orient dream stuff and a Charm of Asia stuff mixed together. I wanted to get into it deeply because Shanghai with her certain bipolarity has moved me before and I felt a lack of being moved by something recently. And then I got this idea of going further. I wanted to be moved by something even stronglier than Shanghai so I have planned this discovery trip to Beijing. So I did. Not becauce Chinese people would interest me nor of any particular interest in knowing what China Life may look like – for I do barely care about people I do not know-  just to get the Chineseness feel – the historical one quiet strange in proportion and exotic in forms for us Westerners –  this image of China, more important for me than real China itself. I got it in Beijing. City I did not like at all but parts of which inspired me so deeply and satified perfectly my hunger for brand new and from-old-comming-new things. It is quiet a superficial romantic way of looking at things of past not having any connection with what happens today I was looking for and I got all what I asked for.  Here is one picture:

Forbidden City
Forbidden City

I loved Forbidden city. It is not pretty and not deep at all, it is just like Versailles – a thing being built to impress and to show to people what they would never be like only to make a difference between the souvereign and the earth-bred. What a poor state is this great, impressive and magnificent monument in and how terribly bad treated. I loved simplicity of this immense building one looking like other but diverse in interiors, and it’s colours are just as you dream of China from childrens book would seem in real.

Chinese ceiling
Chinese ceiling

Royal blue and green combination of colours on painted ceilings all ower the city was a revelation to me. Combined with goldish yellow or white and black or red lines – what a visual success! I admire the bravery of craftsmen who invented this – they must have only been born Chinese. So ‘chinoiserie’ like! Perfect! That gave me desire to turn back to this painting I diplayed in Kurashiki:

Michal Korman: Your heart is empty, oil on canvas 60x50 cm Paris 2011
Michal Korman: Your heart is empty, oil on canvas 60×50 cm Paris 2011

– and to work on something more ‘Chinese-esque’ and ornamental – like this:

Bat carvings
Bat carvings in Jingshan Gongyuan

After this Beijing experience – because modern morose Beijing has nothing to do with casual and chic Shanghai I’m looking forward to read Henri Michaux’s ‘Un Barbare en Chine’ just not to move fin life with impression of my Beijing stay as of one’s illuminated among barbarians. And next time do go even more further in my search in Xi’an or Nanjing or somewhere else within China.



Federico Cortese: CODICE / CODE

Born in Turin, Federico Cortese (41)  works as an independent artist and as an architect, collaborating with several design offices.
Very skilled painter, he focuses in his artistic research on study of language. “Every language,” says Federico, “is created in the purpose of communicating an information. But each language also has formal rules stemming from the purpose for which it is used.’ Federico question in his work the possiblity of isolation the formal rules of a language as a decoration. ” What happens if I apply that structure to another language? How its meaning will change? What will remain of the original meaning of the language?”

Fecerico Cortese: Codice/Codes Figure # 6, oil and pencil on paper, 30×30 cm

In his artistic research Federico Cortese does apply result of this questioning having for subjects of his study cartographic representations, the figures pictured in manuals of medicine, the sheets of the herbals with their plants classification rules, the ancient manuals that collect all the known form of real and imaginary animals, the facial expressions and physiognomy, the pornography, the structure of flags, and so on. Federico: “All these are languages owning their own lexicon; my trial is to isolate and reinvent that lexicon.” In here presented CODE SERIES he discovers for us a very personal topography of an urban or landscape.

Fecerico Cortese: Codice/Codes Figure # 1, oil and pencil on paper, 30×30 cm

“When we consider a road map or a map of the territory we note that they contain different information that are represented by different means, according to the purpose for which they were created: each time we find colors, symbols and words that recall a precise meaning. What happens if I take these techniques of representation, these symbols, and take off the scope for which they were created and mingle them with each other? Will it be for the reader a text in a foreign language, that is meaningless, or through the world of associations and references that each of us possesses, will generate a new language and associate to those images a new meaning?” Federico confirms that in these drawings, the invention of the map of a city is only a pretext. He explains: “Gradually, by changing the shapes, colors and the hierarchy of associations between the various elements I explore the possibilities of changing this language increasingly moving away from its original meaning.”

Fecerico Cortese: Codice/Codes Figure # 5, oil and pencil on paper, 30×30 cm
Fecerico Cortese: Codice/Codes Figure # 7, oil and pencil on paper, 30×30 cm

More on:  http://www.federicocortese.com

On cover:  Fecerico Cortese: Codice/Codes Figure # 3, oil and pencil on paper, 30×30 cm