Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not "Seven Types of Ambiguity" but Three Types of Calligraphy, equal a drawing, and

" ... all drawing is collage," says David Hockney.

In 1816, Hokusai wrote, in his Album of Drawings in Three Styles, that he would like to bring together the three types of writing and ... drawing (mentioned, with examples from his work, Hokusai: Prints and Drawings, ed. Matthi Forrer, Prestel: Munich, 2010, discussion of figure 59).  The three most common styles of Japanese writing, as I understand from my brief research on several sites today, are:
1. shin/kaisha: block characters, with clear shapes and structure
2. gyo/gyosho: where the points and lines of a character are connected, a near-cursive rendering,
3. sho/sosho: true cursive, sometimes called running, abbreviated, fast

The general progression from kaisha to gyosho to sosho is toward fluidity and abstraction. I shouldn't imply that any particular style is "best," however, because, as I read about him, I doubt Hokusai would say anything like that. I think he was trying to give lines in a drawing the same chance to be recognized and described as those in writing. So, I thought, the Hokusai book shows us his response; what about putting together three examples from other people?

So, for kaisha, I choose Ingres, "The Source":

There is some lovely fluidity in the portrayal of this body and the falling water; I am saying that this is like block or clear characters in writing because it is so crystal clear and clean of line. To demonstrate gyosho, or everything being connected, a Matisse, "Faith the Model," (this detail from the catalog The Steins Collect (plate 135),  because it was purchased from Matisse by Sarah and Michael Stein, and this nude now lives in San Francisco):

There she is, completely moving into cursive, blending the colors of background and foreground, but still keeping recognizable form. For sosho, the style of writing that one source said might not even be readable to some people, I collaged and drew a form myself:

It is no longer as clear what is being "said" here ... and I would say that it is fully "cursive."

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