Artists put brush to ink during a calligraphy show

The Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation holds its annual congress shou (Japanese calligraphy), the 70th Dokuritsu Sho exhibition, at the Tokyo National Art Center in the Minato district this month to celebrate the New Year. The spacious venue is filled with thousands of expressive works composed of white paper and various shades of black ink.

The Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 1952 by Teshima Yuhkei, a very distinguished sho artist in Japan who greatly contributed to the promotion of sho internationally. The foundation has approximately 3,000 members who are independent artists and sho enthusiasts across Japan.

Unlike most other sho schools which have distinct styles, the foundation is known for its openness and freedom with an emphasis on individuality and creativity, which is based on the founder’s philosophy. Some of the works on display, especially those written on large pieces of paper that cover entire walls using extremely thick brushes that have to be held in both hands, look more like contemporary works of art than calligraphy.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the exhibition, there is space in the venue dedicated to a special exhibition titled “In Pursuit of Expressive Calligraphy – The Large-Sized Works in the Main -” featuring 20 works created between 1954 and 1982 by founding pioneers including Yuhkei who pursued sho as an art form based on the spirit and principle of independence.

Another part of the exhibition will feature works by members and non-members of the foundation. There are two categories for non-member registrations. One is for all applicants over the age of 18. Foundation judges will award five prizes to outstanding works, with a special award possible for artists between the ages of 18 and 23 whose works receive high ratings. Another category is for smaller pieces submitted by enthusiasts aged 15 or older, who will also be eligible for prizes.

For the second consecutive year, the presentations by eminent calligraphers given in Japanese with interpretation in English, as well as the calligraphy workshops appreciated by many participants each year, will not take place due to the pandemic. However, visitors will still be able to make full use of their imagination to feel the overwhelming power and beauty of sho.

Except for January 18, the exhibition will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until January 23. Free entry. Visitors are asked to follow the museum’s protective measures and guidelines.

Visit https://www.dokuritsu.or.jp/english/ for more information about the Dokuritsu Shojindan Foundation.

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