Artist draws on tradition to fuel exchanges
TOKYO — This year marks the 30th anniversary of Chinese calligrapher Jin Ou's arrival in Japan.
"In the 30 years since I came to Japan, I have been introducing Chinese culture through calligraphy and seal carving works, and promoting the art exchange of calligraphy and painting between the two countries," he says.
To commemorate the anniversary, Jin recently held an exhibition at the China Cultural Center in Tokyo displaying calligraphy and seal carvings made by him and his students, where Jin said he wanted to help the Chinese people in Japan strengthen their traditional cultural learning and seek their cultural roots from calligraphy.
"Kanji, as Chinese characters are called in Japan, come from China, and calligraphy has always been very popular in Japan," he says.
Jin, who was born in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang province, in 1957, went to Japan for study in 1992. During the period of his stay, he studied Chinese and Japanese calligraphy at the same time, and published Jin Ou's Calligraphy, Painting and Seal Carving Works and History of Japanese Ancient Seals and Ancient Seals Research.
Over the years, Jin has actively participated in various large-scale cultural exhibitions in Japan and performed his seal carving skills, which has attracted a lot of attention from the Japanese media.
In 2002, Jin opened the Jin Ou Art Academy, teaching calligraphy, painting and seal carving. "In Japan, calligraphy, painting, and seal carving are generally taught by three teachers, but I teach the three categories at the same time, all by myself, and I modify my way of teaching to suit each student's personal interests and aptitudes," he says.
Because of the distinctive teaching method, many Japanese visit the school to learn art, and Jin's academy is gaining popularity in Japan.
Hajime Matsunaga has been studying calligraphy and seal carving with Jin for nearly 20 years. At the exhibition, his work Four Divine Beasts in Seal Carving is placed in a prominent position. His art and skills shine through the vivid depiction of the four mythical beasts, as well as the carved characters.
"I come to the school almost every day now, and I am very happy to learn calligraphy and seal carving and about classical Chinese culture," Matsunaga says.
In 2004, Jin and several other Chinese calligraphers in Japan established the All-Japan Chinese Calligraphers Association, hoping to provide a greater platform for, and promote more in-depth exchanges between, the Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and seal-cutting circles.
Nowadays, Jin instructs a monthly calligraphy class at the China Cultural Center for overseas Chinese for free. "Calligraphy not only brings peace of mind to people, but also allows them to relive traditional Chinese culture and find the roots of their souls," he says.