Calligraphy is meditation, not just decorative writing

Jyoti_articlefrom an article in PuneMirror:

In town for a special workshop on Japanese calligraphy, accomplished artist Jyoti Naoki Eri speaks about the transformative powers of the art and how it can depict deep emotions aesthetically

Calligraphy, the evocative art of decorative writing, is something we all know as a craft of the past. But, for calligraphy artist Jyoti Naoki Eri, it is still very much a way of life. In the city for the week-long Callifest 2015, organised by the Swayambhu Foundation and Achyut Palav School of Calligraphy, Eri will present a demonstration of the fine art and conduct a workshop on its basics on December 2.

In Japan, it is not uncommon to find preschoolers and elementary school students studiously learning this technique. “This art is very intrinsic to Japanese culture. That is how I began learning and eventually fell in love with it,” said Eri, who began his calligraphy study at age seven. Hailing from an artistic family, Eri later went on to incorporate calligraphy in all his artistic pursuits — he is also an accomplished painter, sculptor and interior designer. “Calligraphy can transform the way you live, the space in which you live. It is a lifetime commitment — it needs to penetrate your very being,” he said.

Japanese calligraphy is complex — each brushstroke is imbued with significant meaning and can aptly bring forward the emotion behind the author’s words. “It is a form of meditation, not just decorative writing. It is about what you want to say and how you want to say it,” reiterated Eri, adding that only one adept in Japanese calligraphy could truly understand and interpret the emotion behind a piece of writing.

The 49-year-old artist, who emphasises that this skill can have an intense emotional and spiritual effect on anyone practicing it properly, came to India in 2005 in search of such spirituality. He found it at Auroville in Tamil Nadu, which is also where he got his ‘Indian name’ of Jyoti, as a way of acceptance into the community. “Buddhism, widely practiced in Japan, originated here. I wanted to see its origins for myself. I was touring northern India when I read about Auroville and Ramana Maharshi. So, I went to explore his teachings and learn yoga on a deeper level, and ended up staying there,” laughed Eri, who has been living in Auroville for the past 10 years.

He started the One Asia Project in 2010, a non-profit organisation working to bring together Asian artists and their work to present to the world on a unified cultural platform. “I wanted to present all of Asia’s culture, spirituality and art as a united project to give it a more prominent position on the global artistic front,” said Eri. All manner of artists from India, China, Japan and more have been roped in for the same.

Asked where he draws his inspiration from, Eri said, “Spirituality and yoga inspire me. It is the essence of my existence. I am an artist because of my inspiration. If there is none, I am no more an artist.”

He plans to bring this inspiration to fuel the workshop on Wednesday, which he quite excited about. “I look forward to seeing what Pune has to offer,” Eri signed off.

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