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Ink Traces Of The Dancing Calligraphers: Zen-Ei Sho In Japan Today

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Chapter Summary

The high cultural status and centrality of calligraphy in the Japanese visual-art tradition, as in that of East Asia generally, is perhaps the most obvious of the defining features of that tradition. Calligraphy is not the 'seed art' of Japan and East Asia because of any religious taboo against depicting the human image, but rather because of the high aesthetic and spiritual value attached to the calligraphic art itself. There was a moment in the history of the separate careers of Japanese and Western expressionism when the two traditions made tentative contacts with each other and a genuine and lasting meeting of minds and even of artistic practice seemed a real possibility. Certainly, in terms of viewer response, some cognizance of the millennia-long calligraphic tradition and its centrality in Japanese culture is necessary for a full understanding of the impact of zen-ei sho in postwar Japan.

Keywords: calligraphic art; east Asia; Japanese culture; Japanese expressionism; Japanese visual-art tradition; western expressionism; zen-ei sho



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