TAOGRAMS

Original Artwork Series

Sumi Ink
Vermilion Seal


 
 
taograms-combo.jpg
 
 

While working with Japanese Sumi ink (India ink or Chinese ink) I’m particularly interested in the movement of the brush and the trace this gesture leaves on the paper. An approach deeply rooted in the Japanese traditions Zen, Shodo, Zenga and Bokuseki.

 

Zen () is a school of Mahayana Buddhism, strongly influenced by Taoism. The word origins in Sanskrit and translates as ‘absorption’ or ‘meditative state’. 


Shodo, Japanese calligraphy, is not only an artistic, but also a mindful and meditative activity. Sho () means ‘to write’ and do () translates with ‘the path, or the Tao’. 


Zenga (Zen monk’s art) is the term for the practice and art (painting and calligraphy), created by Zen Buddhist monks. Ga () is the Japanese word for picture.


Bokuseki (湋鍻) translates with ‘ink trace’, and refers to a specific style of Zenga. It is a form of active meditation, whereby bold, assertive, and often abstract brush strokes are brushed with a single breath, representing the calligrapher’s pure state of mind in a single-moment (nowness).


A lot of works in this ongoing series are based on Chinese characters and Japanese kanjis, but I’m using the same approach for abstract shapes and concepts as well. I don’t limit myself to actual, readable language – my focus lays on the expression, the state of mind and the final composition.

This way the drawings become a depiction of a certain energy (Qi) at a certain time. Like a snapshot of the ongoing flow of Tao or a symbol of the theme or word I was contemplating about.

I therefore call this kind of work taograms, unlike pictograms, logograms or ideograms which would refer to predefined, written language and signs.

More examples coming soon!