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Third Thursday Lecture: Japanese Avant-garde Calligraphy in Conversation with Prehistory
Speaker: Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer (Sainsbury Institute)

Starting from the late 1940s, artists around the globe complicated the relationship between the visual and the verbal, creating various forms of unreadable scripts and languages. Abstract narratives by Pierre Alechinsky, sculptural messages of Isamu Noguchi, and encrypted visual language of Joan Miro, all communicate a sense of confusion and suggest new visions of a language for the future, while connecting to the idealized prehistoric past through the framework of primitivism.

In this context, avant-garde calligraphy from Japan, in which visual representation is equally significant as the semantic meaning, entered the art venues first in Japan and then internationally. The Postwar generation of calligraphy artists, including calligraphers of the Bokujinkai group, Keiseikai group, and independent artists such as Hidai Nankoku, endeavoured to bring calligraphy to the same level of recognition as abstract painting. Based on the recent book “Bokujinkai: Japanese calligraphy and the Postwar Avant-Garde”, this talk introduces the theoretical and visual framework of primitivism as a link between avant-garde calligraphy and international abstract painting in the long 1950s.

Jul 21, 2022 06:00 PM in London

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