Calligraphy and lettering have always held a magical place in my soul. I have written before about the fact that my father was a sign painter (a job no longer really needed with the advent of technology) and how mesmerized I would be by his crafting of the letters he would paint in all sorts of styles and the varying layouts of his compositions. Of course, in Japan, the art of calligraphy is held to a much higher standard, however, technology has also impacted this traditional art form called Shodo. In fact, some have claimed that Shodo is dying out. That is, until Koji Kakinuma who has become practically a cult figure in Japan, has revolutionized this art form. He has honed his calligraphy skills since he first began lessons in Shodo when he was 5 years old. And now he has stunningly exploded the art form and made it truly modern.
He creates his works in what he calls “Eternal Now.” Working in a larger than human size format, the artist is thrust into a situation in which he has really very little control. He must give in to the impulses and energy and draw on his own experience and skill, with great assertiveness, in order to do the work. As is explained on his website, “The Eternal Now represents a one-shot, winner-take-all sensibility that permits no uncertainty and no hesitation, and allows no regrets and no revision. It is the quintessential expression of Japanese art – bringing together the years of tedious, repetitive study of technique and theory with the dynamism of the psycho-spiritual energy manifesting itself at a specific instant in time. ” Watching his Trancework (at the top of this post) makes this abundantly clear.
(In these images above, Kakinuma is writing the word “ippon,” which means “one full point” which is the highest score one can achieve in a Japanese martial arts competition.)