Clark Center Exhibition to Feature Japanese Calligraphy

Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford will present “33 Dances: Japanese Calligraphy from the 16th to the 19th Century,” an exhibition organized under the auspices of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, from September 2 to December 6.

Sasaki Shogen (mid-17th-early 18th century)
Sasaki Shogen (mid-17th-early 18th century)

“33 Dances” focuses on artwork from the Momoyama and Edo periods (1568-1868), when Japan was ruled by powerful shogun, peace and prosperity prevailed and the arts flourished under expanded patronage. Calligraphy was revitalized, practiced by classical and Chinese-style poets, Confucian scholars, literati artists, Zen monks and devotees of courtly waka poetry, and haiku. Within this historical and cultural context, the exhibition focuses on the works as individual dances of line and form in space.

This exhibition is an homage to Dr. Stephen Addiss, emeritus professor at the University of Virginia, Richmond, and draws solely from the calligraphy collection he donated to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2013. “77 Dances” commenced in 2006 and was held at four venues: the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, University of Richmond; the Birmingham Museum of Art; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

In East Asia, calligraphy has been hailed as the highest of all art forms for more than 15 centuries. It’s not hard to understand why; with more than 80,000 Chinese characters and infinite graphic variations, the expressive potential is unlimited. The results, as seen in “33 Dances,” speak for themselves. From hanging scrolls to hand scrolls, albums to folding screens, each work is a unique expression of the artist’s personality and offers a glimpse into the culture that held calligraphy in such high esteem.

The works exemplify the variety of scripts possible with Chinese characters: seal script (tensho), clerical script (reisho), standard script (kaisho), running script (gyosho), and cursive script (sosho). Calligraphy’s emphasis on movement and timing suggests dancing, and each script has its own rhythm, from the formal strictness of seal script to the wild dance of cursive writing.

Gallery hours are 12:30-5pm Tuesday through Saturday. General admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students with valid ID. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Weekly docent tours are held Saturdays at 1 pm.

For more information, visit or call 582-4915

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